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July 13th, 2009
08:09 AM ET

Tough Questions for Sotomayor

The buzz today is all about Sonia Sotomayor as she begins her confirmation hearings.

Sources close to the Supreme Court nominee say she has been spending recent weeks prepping in a tiny, plain office in the Eisenhower Office Building next door to the West Wing of the White House, reviewing material and answering test questions. Republicans say they plan to question Sotomayor about her views on affirmative action, gun rights and whether her Latina heritage would unfairly affect her judicial rulings.

What would you ask her? If you were given the chance to throw a question her way, what would it be? Let us know by adding your comment below. We’ll read some of them on-air later in the show.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr.

    i would flat out ask her if shes racist and I would ask if she done alot of swearing when she hurt her ankle.

    July 13, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  2. Judy Garcia

    Judge Sotomayer:

    Have you been able to recognize your own cultural biases and place these lastly in agendas concerned with race? Does this issue even play a part in your choices today?

    July 13, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  3. Jeff Wainscott

    Question for Ms. Sotomayor: Can you describe a case in which you felt the law was in conflict with your personal experience, and if so, how did you rule?

    July 13, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  4. Jacki

    I'd like to ask the Hon. Sotomayor that since the courts have ruled in civil rights cases that seperate-but-equal is not a legal means to cloak discrimination against a group of people, or as a way to provide them with less than full equal rights, how does she view civil unions as opposed to legal marriage between gay and lesbian people?

    July 13, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  5. Melissa Santiago

    I would ask her:
    What would be your best advice in becoming such a successful woman and person in the adversity and tough situations that we face in our every day lives as minority men and women!

    July 13, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  6. Ruby P

    I'm a (D) myself and I sure hope and pray that they turn this woman down to set on our high court. It is plane as the nose on your face to see if your white she will be thinking about that the whole time she is makeing a major vote on your life if your case goes before the high court. WHITE MEN WATCH OUT!

    July 13, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  7. John

    What is this term "reverse racism?" racism is racism isn't it? Stop encouraging the divide! What it's like to be black in America??? You kidding? What's it like to be a woman? To be Jewish? To be poor? To be gay? If the white race had half of the segregated organizations, tv channels etc like NAACP, that would be wrong-the KKK or white Supremists, "Miss Black America???" Could you imagine Miss White America???? BET channel, is there a WET channel of course not!!! That is just encouraging the divide and the media is helping. Stop it already and just let us all live and stop allowing the hypocracy!!!!

    July 13, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  8. Randy N

    My oppinion is she is in this system (republican or demecrat ) And there fore will do what that party wants. Our goverment is corrupt and I am out to change this even when I know you won't air this comment. Although you should and stop pandering to this Administration. Randy

    July 13, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  9. madeleine charron

    Judge Sotomayor, would you kindly explain the difference between empathy and sympathy. For what I understand, empathy means "I understand" and sympathy means "I agree". Is my undestanding of those two words ok ,and if yes, I see no harm for you as a judge and for all judges to have empathy. Moreover, President Obama is right to ask for some empathy on the part of a supreme court judge. Thank you and congradulations.

    July 13, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  10. Spencer Hassler

    I would ask here, "why did you even refer to race in your speech?" I feel there was no need to make that point. If a white man had remotely even mentioned race, he would have been crucified by the media or any of the like. One more thing, it is a constitutional right to bear arms, I really dont think that ,"right", should be in the hands of the state to decide. Thats something our four fathers layed out and it should not be tampered with.

    July 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  11. Wes Snypes -- TOLEDO

    Isn't ridiculous to say that Sotomayor was prejudiced in the firefighters' case when the 2 other appeals judges and 4 supreme court justices ruled the same? Should all 6 be removed from the benches?

    And the minority firefighters still have an option to file a class action suit claiming that the test was prejudiced.

    July 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  12. Jane No Blinking

    Know the Law ?
    "The Surgeon General serves a four-year term of office and is the highest ranking uniformed officer of the PHSCC, holding the grade of a three-star vice admiral while in office.
    The Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) oversees the PHS and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
    The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government. The Surgeon General's office and staff are known as the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG)."

    Democratic chaos? We might be . What would she say ?

    July 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  13. Martin in Shoreline, WA

    I would ask her why she felt constituionally obligated to discriminate against these white firefighters in New Haven. Ginsburg has unfortunately set the precedent that allows Supreme Court nominees to duck questions. So Sotomayor will likely duck that question.

    But she cannot dodge questions about her public statements. So I would ask her why she feels she makes better decisions than men; especially white men. I would follow that by asking her if she is aware that the definition of racism and sexism, is feeling that your race and/or gender is superior. All racial and gender hatred emanates from these feelings of superiority. Whether your are a white male or black female is irrelevant. It is all equal.

    July 13, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  14. abby

    I would ask her:

    Too many in America are so quick to accuse and divide by race, how has she handled the people who use race to divide Americans instead of bringing us together?

    Personally, I think that the GOP is reluctant to share power with minorities unless those minorities are willing to kow-tow to them. hence, Justice Thomas was acceptable because he followed their ideology to the letter.

    Sotomayor, on the other hand, has been independent in her thinking - she is influenced as we all are by her past and present - but not blinded by it. From what I have read, her decisions have not been ideologically driven.

    However, there are many justices on the Supreme Court whose every decision is ideological - someone can tell exactly how that justice will decide a case because of their ideology.

    July 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Amber Krutak

    I have a question for you- what are your stances on actual issues?? All I hear about is how she has overcome all of these obstacles, and yeah that is important, but I think knowing her stances on key issues that our country faces today is a bit more important than her childhood right now.

    July 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  16. John in Seattle, WA

    I was listening to Mr. Toobin today. He says that you cannot divorce your personal opinion from issues such as abortion and gay marriage. This is the problem in America today. This is why the Supreme Court is becoming so partisan and politicized. Yes we can Jeffrey. It is easy to do. We stopped doing it, and now we are looking at enormous support for a candidate who is clearly racist and sexist.

    My personal opinion is that abortion is a disgusting act that should be avoided at all costs. My political opinion is that I do not have the right to dictate to another individual what to do with their body. So I support freedom of choice, when I am opposed to abortion: Simple.

    Gay marriage? My personal opinion is that gay marriage is not equivalent to straight marriage. No sane person could make the assertion that it is. Hetero vs. homo = Different. One is a biological design for reproduction; one is a reproductive dead end. But I do not have the right to ordain that other people have to hold to my belief system. Nor does the gay community have a right to tell me that I have to hold to their belief system. My political decision is that this is a stupid argument over semantics. Gays need to accept civil unions, and stop being hypocrites.

    Removing your personal opinion from a political decision is easy to do. We have stopped asking our judges to do so, and therein lies the problem. Asking judges to be empathetic, is to ask them to involve their personal opinion in their legal decisions. It is asking that we do away with the Constitution. Anyone who thinks that fact is incorrect, is either delusional or lying to you.

    July 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  17. John in Seattle, WA

    I would ask her if she understands that affirmative action was designed to stop white people from discriminating against minorities. It was not designed to allow discrimination against white people instead.

    July 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  18. gabriel

    People are making a big deal about hey heritage, and the influnce it may have. However no one has brought up the question that many of the supreme court heritage. I believe many are influenced by thier heritage, and how come no one has brought up this issue?????

    July 13, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  19. Bob Watts

    I would love to know and have CNN take this one on a whole lot stronger! How on earth can on U.S. amendment apply to all states, such as freedom of speech, YET another amendment they are trying to say does not. If one amendment applies then they ALL due that is common sense. You just cannot have it both ways.

    July 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  20. Sonny R

    This is a question for Alex Castellanos. Why as an Annalist do you always answer the questions with a comical answer? Like the one about the Chicken and the Alligator. If you say the Judge keeps repeating her statement about her ethnic background, which I think is appropriate, why do you keep making these comic answers?

    July 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  21. Jason S.

    I would ask what the court considers/constitutes a religious organization and if it is appropriate for the Government to continue subsidizing, by giving tax breaks to churches? Further, is there a point when a community has built too many Churches for their given population and if appropriate for churches to be built near residential homes instead of areas zoned for commercial?

    I would ask her what the court considers/constitutes a terrorist organization. I would follow-up with a question asking her opinion on why the U.S. has given protection to “Hate Groups” such as the KKK, Neo Nazi groups, etc. . . . and what is the distinction between a Terrorist group and a Hate group residing in the U.S.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  22. Sally Boyd

    With respect to the "wise Latina woman" quote and the senator who said, "what if I had said the same thing about a wise white man"...what do you think they (those wise white men) have been saying for over two hundred years? With or without words? Of course they thought they could make better decisions. Now it's time for them to make room for this wise Latina woman. Please keep saying the phrase. It is music to my ears.
    Sally Boyd

    July 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  23. bob anderson

    I would like to get her feelings on how 100 crooked senators can question the fairness of her decisions, they have all had a answer to a question turned around on them as she has.

    July 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  24. christa

    I am a white female and I would trust Mrs Sotomayor before I trust any of the white republican senators. We all know that these senators are cronies of their white male friends especially when it is about money and being corrupt. There is discrimination against women and all other minorities in this country. We should be ashamed what these men do to us and our country.

    July 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  25. David

    Judge Sotomayor is composed and calm in these hearings, everyone can see. That bodes well for Ms. Sotomayor as questions and arguments will be coming at her from all quarters should she be seated on the Supreme Court. A reporter question, not for now, but for after the hearings, would be how does she see the whole process and how does she feel about the run up to her possible nomination? How does she feel about going head to head with the Senate Judiciary committee? She has handled the proceedings with a commanding understanding of the questions put before her, and shown a rare quality, humilty, in acknowledging her "Wise Latina" comment that never troubled me much was an inappropriate "flourish" in speeches she made, and she shows warmth and charm throughout. That is what I have seen, though, I have seen much less of the coverage than I thought I would see.

    July 15, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  26. Mike

    I never realized that you had to be a moron to be a senator. I've never seen so much small minded, prejudiced, blatant stupidity in my life.

    July 16, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  27. Prince David AmaGEDOn

    I gave up my biblical studies at night to read Supreme Court cases, and what I discovered is when you have an incompetent attorney and they do exist more than you think, that asks the Court or any Court the "wrong question" like improperly entered, off point, irrelevant, specious, authoritive to anything but the United States Constitution the court will give you the "right answer" to your "wrong question".

    July 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  28. Jill Barnett

    Taxing people based on lifestyle choices that increase health care costs, smokers, over eaters, drug and alcohol abusers etc. is more appropriate than focusing the tax on the "wealthy". By virtue of the fact that medicare taxes are a percentage of income, wealthier individuals are already paying more than those with lower incomes. For example an individual making $300,000 pays $4,200 into the medicare fund vs $700 for an individual making $50,000. It is one more example of redistribution of wealth without addressing the real issues of health care costs. J. Barnett

    July 17, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  29. Debra

    Sure it is fair to tax the rich people to help pay for health care reform. The rich has taken advantage of the many tax loopholes for years, heck decades. It is about time they have to pay for something. What better way for them to pay than for health care for all. We, the middle & lower class have to pay more than our fair share of taxes so why shouldn't the rich have to pay? It's only fair.

    July 17, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  30. David

    It does seem like we wait all day for clarifications from these hearings, but then at the end of the day they do come, whether it's waiting two days for Sen. Arlen Specter to wave aside the whole debate about Judge Sotomayor's "Wise Latina" remark with a motion of his hand and reference to the views of Supreme Court Justices on the subject of personal experience throughtout time, or Sen Kyle finally getting into the nitty gritty of how the Ricci decision was handled by the circuit court, or Judge Sotomayor's explanation of these questions...we do get some answers and they are more reassuring than we might've thought.

    July 17, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  31. John Sherwood

    Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Have you thoroughly perused and understood Americas Constitution as prescribed by its writers? Let me repeat the question this time with your face looking at us and not down at the table muttering your answer…; Have you thoroughly perused and understood Americas Constitution as prescribed by its writers?

    July 24, 2009 at 1:03 am |
  32. Liz

    I cannot say how disappointed I am with the President. As minority I know that racial profiling exists and have experienced it myself throughout my life. But, I also know that minorities take advantage of their status to abuse the system. Quickly blaming "racism" when something goes wrong and when they are not happy with the outcome. I find this new approach despicable and a feel it will further divide this country and not bring us closer. The President's statements made me feel he was not color blind or impartial, but that he quickly put his personal feelings into this matter when responded. Shame on him! I have always been taught not to use my race as excuse and not to prejudge anyone based on their race (while or purple).

    He has a responsibility to stay neutral and to present a united front for all Americans. The Police have an extremely difficult job. They are the first people we call when we need help, yet, I have seen minorities yell, spit and accuse the Police of horrible things when they are there to protect them or arrest a man who just shot someone.... using the excuse of racism. In my eyes, President Obama just made the monster we have unfortunately created in this country bigger. There is no excuse for poor actions, poor behavior, disrespect for the law and for the people who are there to protect us. A blanket statement that "all" police, "all" minorities....simply shows how narrow minded we are as a country and stupid we have become.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  33. nick nelson

    hahaha that woman from Texas is halarious! Anyone else would worry about getting shot, but not that old lady. God Bless America old woman from Texas

    July 24, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  34. Prince David AmaGEDOn

    I believe the application of Law to reality requires intelligence, predictability, Objectiveness, veracity, fairness, reason, perception, honesty, etc; and, the application of Law should be devoid of capricious, arbitrary, emotional, prejudicial, harassment, racist, envy, jealousy, vice, contempt, wrongful appropriation, and other Factors which impair the judicial process. Judge Sotomayor shows none of the above qualifications and her confirmation to the Supreme Court should be delayed until she gets a little smarter.

    July 24, 2009 at 11:56 am |
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