This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
Sonia Sotomayor appears headed for confirmation to the United States Supreme
Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings this week to consider her
nomination by President Obama.
The nomination is expected
to reach the full Senate for a vote before the Democratic-controlled Congress
leaves for its August break.
Supreme Court begins its new term in October. Judge Sotomayor would replace
retired Justice David Souter. She would be the first Hispanic and third woman ever
to serve on the court.
of the questions at the hearing dealt with comments she made in the past. Much
attention has centered on a two thousand one speech when she said: "I
would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would
more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't
lived that life."
She told the senators
that she regretted the comments. She said she does "not permit personal
views, sympathies or prejudices to influence the outcome of cases."
SONIA SOTOMAYOR: "I do not
believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound
She faced three days of intense
questioning. Then the committee heard from a list of people invited by Democrats
Some, like New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg, came to support her.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: "As a
former prosecutor, commercial litigator, district court judge and appellate
judge, she certainly brings a wealth of unique experience."
like Linda Chavez from the Center for Equal Opportunity, spoke against her.
LINDA CHAVEZ: "The record is
clear. Identity politics is at the core of Judge Sotomayor's self-definition."
witness was Frank Ricci, a firefighter from New Haven, Connecticut.
FRANK RICCI: "Americans have
the right to go into our federal courts and have their cases judged based on
the Constitution and our laws, not on politics or personal feelings."
Frank Ricci was
among a group of white and Hispanic firefighters who sued the city for
discrimination. They were denied higher positions because not enough minorities
had passed the tests. Judge Sotomayor and two other federal appeals court
judges supported the city's decision. But the Supreme Court recently overturned
Judge Sotomayor says the ruling
followed established law. Even two Republican senators agreed that her rulings
have generally been in what they called the mainstream.
Like past nominees, Judge
Sotomayor avoided offering opinions on major issues in society. She said doing
so could be seen as pre-judging cases that the Supreme Court might consider.
has began a federal judge for seventeen years. If confirmed, she will be the
only one on the court who was a trial judge.
hearing was not the only big story in Washington this week. President Obama has
been urging Congress to pass health care legislation before its August recess.
But he faces growing objections to the estimated costs.
On Thursday the head of the
Congressional Budget Office reported that current proposals would sharply expand
federal spending on health care.
president, in a brief statement at the White House Friday afternoon, restated
his goal of health care reform this year.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by
Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.