Life experience is important for judge

By the time you read this, Judge Sonia Sotomayor will have spent hours answering questions for the senators on the Judiciary Committee.


The Republicans will have made a big deal out of her statement that boils down to a judge's life experiences will affect his or her interpretation of the law that is relevant to the case under consideration. To deny that life experiences affect our outlook is simply contrary to obvious fact. If they did not, there would be no need to seek balance on the courts. Imagine the reaction of liberals and conservatives if the entire court were minority women in their 30s.

The only cases that reach the Supreme Court are those which are complex, often those in which conflicting case law and precedent seem to apply. Of course, people with different experiences often will emphasize different aspects of the law. In effect, the conservatives are going to say that the only life experiences that count are those that produce an outlook exactly like theirs.

When the conservative commentators and editorial writers get incensed by Sotomayor's record, just remember that the great conservative hero, Justice Antonin Scalia, has said ("God's Justice and Ours," First Things, the Journal of Religion and Public Life, May 2002) that he believes in papal infallibility, which means that church law takes precedence over American law, including the Constitution. Makes you wonder where their support of the Constitution as the final authority was during his confirmation hearing.

Andy C. Reese




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