Senator Tom Coburn Questions Sotomayor

Wednesday, July 15th 2009, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

By Terry Hood and Dan Bewley, The News On 6

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court was on Capitol Hill for the third day.

Sonia Sotomayor had tough questions from republicans, including Oklahoma's Tom Coburn.

Sonia Sotomayor appeared all but certain to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, but that didn't stop the grilling from Republicans.

Senator Coburn had very specific questions about abortion and gun control.

"I sit in Oklahoma in my home and what we have today as the law of the land as you see it, is I do not have a fundamental, incorporated right to bear arms," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R) Oklahoma.

Judge Sotomayor said the question was too abstract to answer, but did explain what the Supreme Court would do if it had to examine the issue.

"What the court will look it is a state regulation of your right and then determine, 'Can the state do that or not?' So even once you recognize a right you're always considering what a state is doing to limit or expand that right and then decide is that okay constitutionally," said Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Nominee.

Another key issue for Senator Coburn was abortion.

"What is the settled law in America about abortion," asked Sen. Coburn.

"In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the court reaffirmed the core holding of Roe vs. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy in certain circumstances," said Sonia Sotomayor.

Judge Sotomayor would not elaborate on her personal view because the issue could come before the Supreme Court.

Senator Coburn also questioned Sotomayor on what influences her decisions and whether the image of the United States in other countries plays a role.

"Is it important that we look good to people outside of this country," asked Sen. Coburn.

Judge Sotomayor said the law is all she looks at and that she's not concerned with pleasing other countries.

"My point is you don't rule to please any crowd, you rule to get the law right under its terms," said Sonia Sotomayor.

After lawmakers finish questioning Judge Sotomayor, they'll hear from other witnesses, including a Connecticut firefighter who sued the city of New Haven, claiming discrimination.

Sotomayor ruled against Frank Ricci.

That decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor, 55, is in line to become the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court.

Coburn is a member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee. 

5/31/2009 Related story: Senator Tom Coburn To Seek Re-Election 

Obama nominated the appeals court judge to replace Justice David Souter, who retired last month.