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NLIRH Executive Director Silvia Henriquez discusses Sotomayor, Roe v. Wade and Latinos’ diverse views on abortion in an op-ed featured in New American Media.

The wide diversity of Latino attitudes on abortion tells us that Judge Sotomayor’s ethnicity does not determine her position on Roe v. Wade. What we do know is that even though Judge Sotomayor’s experience and record have not directly dealt with protecting a woman’s right to choose, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice, fidelity to legal precedent and utmost respect for the law throughout her career. In her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, she made clear that her future decisions would be bound by legal precedent and clearly articulated her respect for the law established in Roe v. Wade. Judge Sotomayor’s statements were extremely promising indicators of her commitment to women’s reproductive rights.

Read the full piece at New American Media.

By Maria Elena Perez, Director of Community Mobilization

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Despite an impressive record, and support from Republicans and Democrats, Judge Sotomayor is still facing opposition. Senator John McCain said yesterday he won’t vote for Judge Sotomayor.

She needs your support. Click here to send an email to your Senator’s telling them why they should support her.

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Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 13 – 6.

Silvia Henriquez, executive director for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the nation’s leading voice on Latina reproductive health and justice, provided the following comments in support of the confirmation vote.

NLIRH commends Judiciary Committee members and calls on the Senate to show full and immediate support of Sotomayor’s historic nomination. Throughout the extensive questioning, Judge Sotomayor has shown the courage and conviction necessary to make critical decisions on behalf of all Americans. Supreme Court decisions have a tremendous impact on our daily lives, making it all the more necessary to have an extremely qualified Latina serve on the U.S. Supreme Court who understands and respects the diverse experiences of all people in this country. We urge the full Senate to focus on her exceptional judicial career that spans 17 years in the federal court, in addition to her academic experience and her role as a New York City prosecutor—and confirm Judge Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director, and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Deputy Director, are available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact Andrea Hagelgans of Camino PR at 212.255.2575 or 646.575.2956.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to endorse Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination today, in a vote of 13-6. Only one Republican member voted in support of her nomination, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.

The full Senate will have to vote on her nomination, but her confirmation looks likely.

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 Nation’s leading voice for Latina reproductive health and justice concludes Judge supports right to privacy and fidelity to the law

In anticipation of the Judiciary Committee vote, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) called on the Senate to confirm federal appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Throughout the hearings, Judge Sotomayor expressed unwavering respect for the right to privacy and settled law, including the pivotal decision Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion. NLIRH, the nation’s leading voice for Latina reproductive health and justice, issued the following statement in support of Judge Sotomayor:

NLIRH stands in solidarity with Judge Sotomayor as she moves one step closer to becoming the first Hispanic judge on the Supreme Court,” said Silvia Henriquez, NLIRH Executive Director.  “Judge Sotomayor has shown time and again that she respects prior Supreme Court decisions and will continue to uphold a woman’s right to choose.  After listening to Judge Sotomayor’s responses to extensive questioning, we are confident that she recognizes the pivotal role she will play in promoting the dignity and well-being of our families and our community.

At 46 million, Latinos are the nation’s largest and fastest growing minority group. Nine million Latinos voted in the 2008 elections. Unfortunately, Latinos still report high rates of discrimination.  

From equal protection under the law to education and health care access, Supreme Court decisions have a daily impact on all Americans. These decisions shape the lives of today’s generation as well as generations to come, making it all the more necessary for the Supreme Court to understand and appreciate the diversity of experiences in this country. We hope that the Senate will show its full and immediate support for Judge Sotomayor, added Henriquez.

Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director, and Jenny Jourdain, Associate Director of Policy, are available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact Andrea Hagelgans of Camino PR at 212.255.2575 and 646.575.2956.

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Sotomayor_Color ImageYesterday marked the final day of the confirmation hearings and the last day where the public will hear directly from Judge Sotomayor.  The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman hopes to have a full committee vote on Judge Sotomayor’s nomination next Tuesday, July 21st, 2009.

On the fourth and final day of the confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor continued to demonstrate her extensive legal expertise and judicial experience.  Senators, such as Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), continued to ask repetitive questions about her association with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) and specifically on her position on abortion rights.  Senator Graham stated he had not seen her personally advocate for these positions and that leaning towards her positions on these issues are not evident in her judging.  The Congressional Research Service analysis has also found that Judge Sotomayor’s opinions as an appellate judge were consistently committed to judicial precedent.

Questions about the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade were asked by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  Senator Coburn questioned whether the Supreme Court’s rulings have ended the controversy surrounding the decision in Roe v. Wade.  She recognized that the rulings on the right to an abortion have not ended the national controversy over the issue.  Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) confronted her on her affiliation with PRLDEF and specifically on the amicus brief the organization signed regarding public funding for abortion for low-income women.  Judge Sotomayor explained that her affiliation with PRLDEF was as a member of their Board of Directors and, as such, was not involved in the staff’s daily work of preparing litigation or legal briefs.  She stated that she did not review the PRLDEF briefs released; including the brief they supported against onerous restrictions on federal funding of abortion based on the constitutional right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.

For further information (in English) on the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF)’s position regarding the specific case related to Medicaid funding for abortion in Illinois, please review the Fact Sheet by Alliance for Justice (AFJ). As stated in AFJ’s fact sheet, PRLDEF’s current president and general counsel confirmed that as a board member, Sotomayor “was not directly involved” in preparing litigation materials on behalf of the organization.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting next week to consider Sotomayor’s nomination and a full vote in the Senate may come as early as August 7th.

Please stay tuned for more information from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health as the votes unfold, and visit our Guide to the Supreme Court for more information on the nomination, how the Supreme Court works, current sitting Justices, and how a case gets to the Supreme Court.

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Yesterday, the questions from Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee continued during the Sotomayor’s Confirmation Hearings in Washington, DC. Judge Sotomayor was asked many questions about her views on abortion rights, based on cases such as Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

Over the past few days, Judge Sotomayor has made it clear that she has a deep respect for precedent. She has not stated whether she personally identifies as pro-choice, however, she has repeatedly stated her respect for settled law–which demonstrated her support for the decision in Roe v. Wade. This decision legalized abortion as a ‘right to privacy’ that is described as a fundamental right in the U.S. Constitution.

In Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s 17 years of judicial experience, she has not had cases that dealt directly with a women’s right to choose.  Senator Cornyn asked for her position on abortion based on conversations with the White House. Judge Sotomayor stated that the White House did not ask her specifically about abortion rights during her interview and referred to her record for proof that she has followed the law on all legal issues.

Senator Cardin asked about her assessment on privacy rights and Senator Franken asked about the connection between the term “birth control” and privacy rights.  Judge Sotomayor explained that the right to privacy has been recognized in many different circumstances for more than 90 years and it is a right that is part of the Supreme Court’s precedent. She stated that she respects precedent as a framework for future decisions and that any review of precedent should be done very carefully by the courts.

Senator Coburn asked her the following question regarding abortion rights: “[Judge Sotomayor,] you said that Roe v. Wade is settled law. What is the state of abortion rights in America?” She responded that the court reaffirmed the decision of Roe v. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy and the case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood cemented the Roe ruling.

Throughout the hearing, Senators probed her on her position regarding cases supported by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF).  Sotomayor served on PRLDEF’s Board of Directors for 12 years.  One specific case related to Medicaid funding for abortion in Illinois.  For more information about this case in English, please review the Fact Sheet by Alliance for Justice.

As stated in AFJ’s fact sheet, PRLDEF’s current president and general counsel confirmed that as a board member, Sotomayor “was not directly involved” in preparing litigation materials on behalf of the organization.
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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will be viewing the hearings carefully to ensure that Judge Sotomayor and her legal perspectives address the critical issues that impact our lives.

Please stay tuned for more information from NLIRH as the hearings unfold, and visit our Guide to the Supreme Court for more information on the nomination, how the Supreme Court works, currently sitting Justices, and how a case gets to the Supreme Court.

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sotomayorDay two of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings began with questions from Senators and Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s answers under oath on the issues that impact the lives of our community. This conversation between the Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Judge Sotomayor marks one of the only times in which we will hear her explain her opinion on important issues affecting Latinas and all women. The right of privacy, upholding precedent and settled law such as Roe v. Wade were among the legal issues discussed during the second day of the hearings and are critical to ensure the reproductive rights and liberties of all Latinas. Click here to see the video of Judge Sotomayor answering these important questions.

Judge Sotomayor reiterated once and again throughout the hearing that respecting precedent is what gives the law stability and that her 17-year record as a Judge proves that in her court, precedent and the rule of law are of utmost importance. Senator Herb Kohl asked her opinion on the right to privacy in the Griswold case, which laid foundation for Roe v. Wade. He asked her, specifically, if she considered Roe to be settled law. Sotomayor clearly stated that Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which reaffirmed that the decision in Roe is “the Supreme Court’s settled interpretation of what the core holding is [reaffirmed the decision of the case].”

Clearly, Judge Sotomayor has not expressed a personal opinion for or against abortion, but she has expressed unwavering respect for precedent, which for us means that she supports the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

Senators also questioned how her background and experiences as a Latina would influence her decisions as a Justice. Sotomayor stated that, as her 17-year record proves, she has set aside any prejudices and stuck to the law. She reaffirmed this many times throughout the hearing.

What this means for Latinas:

  • A U.S. Supreme Court Justice that upholds and respects precedent will protect the right to privacy established in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. It is critical that a U.S. Supreme Court Justice protect the rights and liberties that promote the dignity and well-being of our families and communities.
  • Judge Sotomayor clearly articulated her respect for the Roe decision, which is an extremely promising indicator of her commitment to upholding the reproductive rights established by that landmark decision.

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Yesterday marked the first day of the historic judicial confirmation hearings of an extremely qualified, Latina nominee for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Honorable Sonia Sotomayor. Opening statements from the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership emphasized throughout the day Judge Sotomayor’s respect for judicial precedent, while anti-choice protesters interrupted and were escorted out of the hearing.

Senator Diane Feinstein, one of only two female Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, highlighted the importance of protecting key rights of all individuals. Judge Sotomayor’s “fidelity to the law” is the foundation of her judicial philosophy.

What this means for Latinas:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court impacts the reproductive health and rights of Latinas. It is essential that any nominee to the Supreme Court upholds precedent and protects the right to privacy established in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
  • The contribution of a Latina and a woman’s voice is long overdue and is demonstrated in this historic judicial nomination process.
  • It is critical that a U.S. Supreme Court Justice protect the rights that promotes the dignity and well-being of our families and communities.

Today marks the day the Senator’s questions begin and will allow us more insight to Judge Sotomayor’s position on the scope of an individuals’ right to privacy and upholding precedent to ensure the reproductive rights and liberties of all Latinas.

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Next Monday, July 13th, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings will begin for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will be viewing the hearings carefully to ensure that Judge Sotomayor and her legal perspectives address the critical issues that impact our lives.

Latinas need a Supreme Court Justice who will protect the rights that promote the dignity and well-being of our families and communities. We must be informed about the nomination process and be aware of how reproductive justice issues are affected.  Please look at our primers, Judicial Nominations Awareness: Latinas for Justice and Briefing on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Nomination to the Supreme Court, for more information about how the judicial nominations, confirmation process, and the Supreme Court impact the reproductive health and rights of Latinas.

Please stay tuned for more information from NLIRH as the hearings unfold. Our primers will be available in Spanish very soon.

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