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Questions for Soto – Will She Answer Them?

Senator Cornyn has been sending out a “Daily Question for Judge Sotomayor” for the last several weeks and will do so up to, and possibly through, her hearing that is scheduled to begin on July 13th. These questions are very good – and her answers to them would be enlightening… that is, IF she answers them fully and honestly.

We shall see.

To see the Senator’s previous questions, click here.

Today’s question (Wednesday, July 1, 2009):

Has the Supreme Court made any missteps in the last fifty years that might justify public skepticism about lawyers and the courts?

Explanation: Judge Sotomayor has written extensively about public mistrust and skepticism towards the role of lawyers and judges. See Hon Sonia Sotomayor & Nicole A. Gordon, Returning Majesty to the Law and Politics: A Modern Approach, 30 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 35 (1996-97). In her writings, she blames the public for misunderstanding the role of lawyers and judges. She suggests that public skepticism is the result of poor public education on the importance of lawyers and the many roles they should play. The public should be educated, she writes, about “the importance of respecting every kind of legal practice” and the role of the courts.

Judge Sotomayor’s account raises the fair question of whether she thinks the Supreme Court is to blame for any of the public skepticism about the law and lawyers. In my view, some of the public skepticism about the law is justified: The Supreme Court has too often been ruled by politics and not law. The Supreme Court has too often turned the policy preferences of its members into constitutional law that the elected branches are not free to change. In her hearings, I hope Judge Sotomayor will tell us what role she thinks the Supreme Court has played in triggering public mistrust of lawyers and the law. I hope she will explain what missteps if any the Supreme Court has made, as well as what the Supreme Court can do to help the public have greater faith in the law in the future.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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