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What Alberto Gonzales Would Like to Ask Judge Sotomayor

Posted Jul 13, 2009 8:25 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has a few questions he would like to ask U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. And one of them concerns the war on terrorism.

Gonzales, whose Justice Department gave legal approval for harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects, writes in the New York Times that he would ask this question: “Some overseas critics have questioned the legality of United States government policies on the war on terrorism. Should America’s standing in the world, to the extent it may be affected by the outcome of a case, ever inform a judicial decision?”

Sotomayor is scheduled to give an opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee today as it begins hearings on her nomination to replace retired justice David H. Souter. The New York Times asked several legal experts for questions they would like to ask Sotomayor. She would be the first Hispanic justice; Gonzales was the first Hispanic attorney general.

Gonzales would also ask Sotomayor whether, in light of her remarks about showing compassion, there is a difference between doing justice and applying the law. He would also ask Sotomayor when she would be willing to overturn precedent.

Here are a few of the questions submitted by other experts:

University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse: “When you said you hoped that ‘a wise Latina’ would make better judicial decisions, did you mean it as a pleasantry aimed at people who had invited you to speak about diversity or will you now defend the idea that decision-making on the Supreme Court is enhanced by an array of justices representing different backgrounds?”

Stanford law professor Kathleen Sullivan: “Advocacy of ‘states’ rights’ has long been considered a hallmark of conservative judicial philosophy. Recently, however, we have seen the advent of what might be called ‘blue states’ rights,’ as progressive states seek to provide greater consumer, environmental and antidiscrimination protection than the federal government, while business seeks to strike down such measures as pre-empted by federal law. What is your view of the role of federalism in our constitutional system?”

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