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Mitch McConnell’s Rejection of Sonia Sotomayor

As promised, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) today issued his full statement explaining why he will vote not to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice.

After a lengthy dissertation denouncing Democrats for blocking the confirmation of previous Republican nominees, McConnell said that despite his strong belief that the president is entitled to great deference in his choice of Supreme Court justice, the senator would not support this one.

“If empathy is the new standard, then the burden is on any nominee who is chosen on that basis to show a firm commitment to equal justice under the law,” he said. “If nominees aren’t even expected to apply equal justice, we can’t be expected simply to defer to the President — especially if that nominee, as a sitting judge, no less, has repeatedly doubted the ability to adhere to this core principle.”

He continued:

Looked at in this light, Judge Sotomayor’s record of written statements suggests an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and therefore, in my view, an insufficient willingness to abide by the judicial oath. This is particularly important when considering someone for the Supreme Court since, if she were confirmed, there would be no higher court to deter or prevent her from injecting into the law the various disconcerting principles that recur throughout her public statements. And for that reason, I will oppose her nomination.

McConnell then went on to criticize Sotomayor’s judicial record, and repeated the mistaken view, expressed by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) at the nomination hearing last week, that the Supreme Court in the discrimination case of Ricci v. DeStefano had unanimously rejected the Second Circuit opinion that Judge Sotomayor had joined.

“I’m referring to the Ricci case, in which a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court rejected Judge Sotomayor’s decision and all of them agreed that her reading of the law was flawed,” he said. “Here was a case in which a group of firefighters who had studied hard and passed a written test for promotion were denied it because not enough minority firefighters had scored as well as they had.”

As I’ve explained before, and as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) ably pointed out at the hearing last week, the Supreme Court’s decision was 5-4, with four dissenters saying they would have affirmed the Second Circuit opinion.

McConnell’s full statement is here.

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