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Sotomayor Follow-Up Questions

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SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor has responded to written follow-up questions from the Judiciary Committee Republicans. The questions and answers are here on the committee website. As anyone who watched the hearings can guess, there are no great revelations. Tony Mauro has this post at BLT.

Death penalty questions are on pages 11-14. Again, she minimizes the PRLDEF memo. She declares that she is not Witherspoon-Witt excludable: "I have no personal views about the death penalty that would interfere with my obligation to apply the law as a judge." She says, "The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the death penalty may never be imposed consistent with the Eighth Amendment in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 187 (1976), and I accept that decision." That's not quite a promise she won't go Blackmun on us, but I suppose it's as close as we could expect to get.

Her answer to the McCleskey question, pp. 12-13, says nothing. That touches on the greatest concern, that once freed from the requirement to follow precedents of higher courts she might accept some flaky racial argument against the death penalty. (For reasons why the arguments are flaky, see this article.) We'll just have to wait and see.

On pages 24-25, she responds to a question about Hayden v. Pataki. Sessions screws it up by misstating the would-be holding of the dissenters, that they would have held that New York's felon disenfranchisement law violates the Fifteenth Amendment.  She responds that her opinion was on the statute and only about whether judgment should have been rendered at an early stage. Would a better question have produced a more informative answer? Probably not. The penultimate question gives us this gem:

1. Please describe with particularity the process by which these questions were answered.
Response: Responses to these questions were drafted by legal staff of the White House based on my guidance. I edited these draft responses, and gave final approval to all answers.
Please pass the Maalox.

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It's hard to believe a person with this little talent is going to be a Supreme Court Justice.

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