Pro-life groups are largely opposed to President Obama's nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Although Sotomayor is considered a centrist and upheld the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits federal funding for overseas abortion, pro-life groups say she is unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade and worry that she will legislate from the bench.
Their concern stems in part from 2005 comments Sotomayer made at Duke Law School, where she said the courts are the place "where policy is made."
"This is a very aggressive decision that will trigger a national debate on the issue of judicial activism," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said today in a statement. "This nomination raises serious questions about the issue of legislating from the bench.
"We're hopeful that the members of the Senate will ask the tough questions about her judicial philosophy and temperament when the confirmation hearings get underway this summer," he added.
If she were to be confirmed this summer, Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, would be the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, Sotomayor served in private practice as assistant district attorney in New York County. In 1991, she was nominated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President George H.W. Bush.
Mathew D. Staver, founder of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, said Sotomayor has a mixed history on cases and would not change the makeup of the high court.
In a statement issued Tuesday, he said Sotomayor has written in support of affirmative action, upheld the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and wrote that denying use of a town hall annex for their worship services violated the First Amendment. But he said Sotomayor has had five decisions reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, and three were reversed. In those cases she carried only 11 of 44 possible votes.
"No one ever expected President Barack Obama to nominate someone who respects the original intent of the Constitution," Staver said. "While Sotomayor is not the easiest nomination the president was considering in his short list, she is by far not the most risky either"
Hours after Sotomayor's nomination was announced, Organized for Life launched a campaign to oppose her confirmation.
"In nominating Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama chose to further his own pro-abortion agenda rather than seek common ground on the abortion issue," said Ruben Obregon, president of Organized for Life. "Instead of faithfully representing America's views, President Obama has added another reliably liberal member to the court who will continue to impose the court's will on the people. Pro-life activists, the Davids in this epic battle for life, can only stop the Goliath of the White House by banding together and signing the petition at www.stopsotomayor.com."
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said Sotomayor is "unfit" to serve on the high court. "Sonia Sotomayor is a far-left ideologue that blurs the lines between the legislature and judiciary and will surely be a rubber stamp for Obama's radical abortion agenda, which is opposed by the majority of Americans," Newman said, referring to a recent Gallup Poll that found 51 percent of Americans consider themselves pro-life.
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry also called on Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania to block Sotomayor's confirmation through filibuster.
"The Democrats have two weak links in their chain: Senators Nelson (NE) and Casey (PA), who both declare they are 'pro-life,'" Terry said. "The question of conscience and courage is on the table: Will they choose babies' lives or party loyalty?"
"It will be an uphill battle," Terry added, "but if the GOP will honor its platform, and Catholic bishops will obey the directives of John Paul II, we could keep Sotomayor off the court."
In a statement released Tuesday, Nelson said he looked forward to learning more about Sotomayor's background, record and qualifications, and discussing her judicial philosophy. "I look forward to examining her entire record and commitment to upholding the law and Constitution of the United States in the coming weeks," he said.
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