By Alexander Bolton - 07/24/09 11:42 AM EDT
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, announced Friday that he would oppose the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, despite representing a state that is nearly a third Hispanic.
Cornyn’s opposition is significant because as NRSC chairman he is one of the Senate GOP’s chief political strategists. He is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former Texas Supreme Court justice.
“While her record was generally in the mainstream, several of her decisions demonstrated the kind of liberal judicial activism that has steered the court in the wrong direction over the last few years,” Cornyn said in floor remarks Friday.
“And many of her public statements reflected a surprisingly radical view of the law. Now, some have said that we can ignore her speeches and just focus on her decisions as a judge. I disagree.
“And those speeches contain very radical ideas on what the role of a judge is. In her speeches, she said: There is no objectivity in law; courts should change the law to make new policy; and ethnicity and gender can and even should impact a judge’s decision-making.”
Cornyn told The Hill in a recent interview that he was mindful of the large Hispanic population in Texas, which is estimated at 32 percent, but that demographics wouldn’t force his vote one way or another.
Cornyn stressed the importance of showing the nominee respect and during confirmation hearings he made sure to display a courteous demeanor, at one point apologizing to Sotomayor for interrupting one of her answers — a rare show of manners in a Senate hearing.
But during breaks in the testimony, Cornyn said he was not satisfied with her answers and suggested that she had given the committee contradictory testimony.
“She appeared to disavow some of her comments and then today she walked back from that and seemed to reassert those words,” Cornyn said during the third day of the testimony. “I think it’s very confusing.”
Sotomayor’s bid for Republican support suffered Thursday when the National Rifle Association sent a letter to Senate leaders announcing that it would score the nominee’s confirmation vote on “future candidate evaluations.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) is the only Republican member of the Judiciary panel to announce his support for Sotomayor.
Conryn is the third Republican on the Judiciary panel to voice opposition to Sotomayor. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also announced Friday his intent to vote nay. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) came out against Sotomayor on Wednesday.
Several Republicans, including Sens. Richard Lugar (Ind.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and Mel Martinez (Fla.), have also said they would vote for her.