Senator Chuck Grassley this morning raised concerns about President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Grassley, a Republican, is a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that opened hearings this morning on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the nation’s highest court.
"I’ve reviewed your record and have concerns about your judicial philosophy," Grassley said. "For example, in one speech, you doubted that a judge could ever be truly impartial. In another speech, you argued that it is a ‘disservice both to law and society’ for judges to disregard personal views shaped by one’s ‘differences as a woman or man of color.’ In yet another speech, you proclaimed that the court of appeals is where ‘policy is made.’"
Grassley said he was troubled by President Obama’s comment that judges should have "empathy" — and Grassley outlined his own view of a what makes a good judge.
"The touchstone of being a good judge is the exercise of judicial restraint," Grassley said. "Good judges understand that their job is not to impose their own personal opinions of right and wrong. They know their job is to say what the law is, rather than what they personally think that it ought to be."
Grassley said he fears Sotomayor’s "personal politics, feelings and preferences" would shape her opinions.
"The American legal system requires that judges check their biases, personal preferences and politics at the door of the courthouse. Lady Justice stands before the Supreme Court with a blindfold holding the scales of justice," Grassley said. "Just like Lady Justice, judges and Justices must wear blindfolds when they interpret the Constitution and administer justice."
Grassley told Sotomayor he would be asking her about her judicial philosophy and how she’ll deal with her biases and personal preferences when deciding cases. The hearing is expected to last most of the week. Grassley began his remarks this morning, however, with by offering Sotomayor a cordial greeting.
"A warm welcome to you and your family and friends," Grassley said. "They are all very proud of you and rightly so."
Read Grassley’s entire statement on The Blog or click on the audio link below to listen to his remarks.