Friday, July 17, 2009

Sotomayor on Abortion: A Big Blank

This week the Senate has asked Judge Sotomayor a number of questions regarding law, her thoughts on legal precedent, and her previous "wise latina" comments. Most of this week has been quiet. With Democrats holding 60 votes in the Senate, it would be almost impossible for Republicans to block her from the Supreme Court. Could liberal special interest groups block her? What if Judge Sonia Sotomayor was actually against abortion?

This discussion flows from a conversation my Dad and I had about the Judge. He asked me if I would like something interesting to write about Judge Sotomayor. I am always interested in finding unusual points of view on today's topics. My Dad's is unusual, but also compelling, so I thought I would share it.

Do a Google search for "Judge Sotomayor and abortion" and there are a number of articles about questions she has been asked and her lack of a clear answer. Some pro-choice groups are actually upset she hasn't come out clearly in favor of abortion. You can see in real time what the social media universe is saying about the Sotomayor confirmation hearings at Viral Heat. None of the articles I have read give a clear picture about her personal opinions on abortion. My Dad's line of thought goes like this:

  1. Judge Sotomayor is a Hispanic Catholic. Both of these groups tend to be more anti-abortion in poll after poll.

  2. She attended Cardinal Spellman High School. Here she would have been exposed to the official Catholic view in her late teens. Cardinal Spellman High School is a prestigious Catholic school.

  3. Judge Sotomayor has not spoken out about abortion during her career. This is unusual considering the number of social issues she has spoken out about over the decades of her career. She has spoken out about a number of other issues (such as race) that are coming up in her confirmation hearings. As of yet, I haven't heard anyone say that she discussed the moral implications of abortion during her career.

  4. Similarly, there are no papers or rulings. She hasn't written any articles on abortion nor has she ruled very significantly on abortion. These last two together show that she has actively dodged giving her opinion in public on abortion.

  5. She has been a leader in a number of liberal groups, but not an abortion rights group. Digging through her memberships, I have found no pro-choice group she has held membership too.

  6. Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush. In this case, Judge Sotomayor upheld the "Mexico City Policy." This policy said that the federal government would not contribute money to groups outside of the United States that fund abortions. Judge Sotomayor said the government was within its right to make this decision.

There are a number of other clues, but these seem to be the biggest ones to me. I make no claim to know the inner workings of Judge Sotomayor's brain. However, a number of previous nominees have turned out to have different leanings than the President that nominated them. I haven't seen any evidence to contradict my Dad's position, and the more I dig the more I think he may be right. My Dad stated he would give "60 -40 odds that she is pro-life." I think the chances she is pro-life are higher than that. What would the fallout be for the Obama administration if Judge Sotomayor turns out to be anti-abortion Supreme Court Justice?

This post sponsored by Viral Heat


Brandon said...


There is one flaw in your analysis, your first point about Sotomayor being Catholic. She was born and baptized as a Catholic, but is a non-practicing Catholic today, with the exception of attending christenings and Christian holiday services.

Secondly, as a result of the Second Circuit's location, it's not surprising that she has not ruled on abortion. A lot of the Second Circuit's rulings focus on business and securities law thanks to it being located in New York City. From reading about the Mexico City decision on SCOTUSblog, her ruling might have more to do with precedence than her personal feelings.

Ultimately, I have no idea what her feeling are on abortion and to be honest I don't really care either. Sotomayor is a blank slate which both sides are free to paint to there liking, and one side is going to be disappointed if the Supreme Court hears a challenge to Roe.

Andy D said...


Both of your "Counterpoints" are good points. I think each of the individual points I ticked off in the original post mean little or nothing. However, when stacked together, they start to paint a picture that Judge Sotomayor may be pro-life.

Like you, I don't know what her true feelings on the issue are. I certainly hope she is pro-life because I hope to convince everyone to be pro-life. However, whatever her position, if a challenge to Roe is heard, I hope she rules on the law and not her personal beliefs.