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2005 Sotomayor Speech May Raise Conservative Eyebrows

Posted May 6, 2009 8:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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New concerns are being aired about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, considered one of the front-runners for the U.S. Supreme Court seat held by retiring Justice David H. Souter, and Exhibit A is likely to be a 2005 speech she made at Duke University.

Sotomayor is a judge on the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Her speech is likely to raise eyebrows among conservatives who rail against activist judges.

The Washington Post has details. In the taped speech, Sotomayor said, "All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience" because "the court of appeals is where policy is made." Sotomayor then tried to backtrack, saying, “I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't make law, I know. Um, okay. I know. I'm not promoting it, I'm not advocating it."

The Post says the tape surfaced amid rising criticism of Sotomayor for having “a domineering presence” on the bench.

A lawyer who has been consulted on the White House selection process for the Supreme Court, but who is not helping draw up the list of candidates, told the Post of the likely top candidates in three categories: the judiciary, academia and politics. The leading candidates in each category, the lawyer said, are Judge Diane Wood of the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals based in Chicago; Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School; and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Harvard law graduate.

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