Bravo, bravo. Click on first few words in each piece for link to entire article…
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On the abortion front, I’m struck by two dynamics at work in Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. One: Republicans are attacking the idea of a constitutional right to abortion with a unity and forthrightness not seen in years, grilling Sotomayor on how the Constitution could be construed to contain such a right.
Two: As Republicans lift their voices on the issue, Sotomayor is evading all questions about her personal views on abortion. While recognizing that she considers Roe v. Wade to be settled law, Sotomayor has gone out of her way to obscure her personal position, disavowing signs that abortion rights supporters and opponents have taken as evidence of her pro-abortion rights views….

(Read excerpts from 4 more articles on page 2.)

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Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor weathered a 3rd day of her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, frustrating Republican senators’ attempts to probe her… her views on abortion….
In one exchange, Sotomayor said that no one – including President Barack Obama – had asked her to state her views on the right to abortion before her nomination, and she implied that no one should presume how she would vote on the issue in the future.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) repeatedly pressed her on abortion questions, including whether new medical technology should impact the Court’s definition of fetal viability as a test for when states can regulate abortions. Sotomayor declined. “We don’t make policy choices,” she insisted….

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(Didn’t like the apology here… unnecessary… but all else good. Great comparison of definitions of life and death.)

Tom Coburn, the OK Republican, apologized for the anti-abortion outbursts of various spectators in the last 2 days and complimented the judge on her poise. But he immediately turned his attention to abortion and Roe vs. Wade and her opinion about what, exactly, the phrase “settled law” means.
Sotomayor said that Planned Parenthood vs. Casey “reaffirmed the core holding of Roe vs. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy in certain circumstances.”
Coburn, a physician, then offered up a theoretical problem faced by a pregnant woman who learns partway into her pregnancy that her fetus has spina bifida. Should she be able to have an abortion?
“I can’t answer your hypothetical,” said Sotomayor.
Coburn wondered whether the technology that allows a 21-week fetus born prematurely to grown into a healthy child should have any bearing on the law. But Sotomayor refused to get into that debate. The law, she said, “has answered a different question. It has talked about the constitutional rights of women in certain circumstances.”
When he kept pressing, Sotomayor demurred: “I can’t answer that in the abstract because the question, if it comes before me, wouldn’t come in the way you form it as a citizen. It would come to me as judge, in the context of some action that someone is taking, the state, a private citizen being controlled by the state challenging that action.”
“All I am asking is should viability be considered as we discuss these delicate issues?”
A 3rd time, Sotomayor refused to be drawn into the debate. “I can’t because that’s not a question that the court reaches out to answer. That is a question that gets created by a state regulation of some sort, or an action by the state, that may or may not, according to some plaintiff, place an undue burden on her. We don’t make policy… in the court.
Coburn, in a moment of genteel snarkiness, said he was reminded of her infamous quote that appellate courts do make policy (which she instantly disavowed and has been trying to explain ever since). But he didn’t dwell on that and turned his attention to the definition of death.
“Does a state legislature have the right to define the definition of death,” he asked. “Is it within the realm of the Constitution that states can do that?” That, said Sotomayor, “depends.” The actions of states, she said, are “looked at in the context of what the state is trying to do and what the state is imposing.” Coburn returned to the influence of technological advances on the discussions around abortion, life and death.
“As recently as 6 months ago, we recorded fetal heart beat at 14 days post-conception and fetal brain waves at 40 days. We have this schizophrenic rule of the law, we define death as the absence of those, but we refuse to define life as the dependence of those. It concerns me that we are so inaccurate, inconsistent in terms of our application of the logic.”

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Abortion opponents saw their issue take center stage when Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor about her 12-year tenure with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
In particular, the SC Republican asked Tuesday about legal briefs the group filed arguing for an expansion of abortion rights. In one of those cases, Graham said, the group claimed that denying a woman access to an abortion was a form of slavery. Sotomayor said she never read those briefs, an assertion that abortion opponents say is hard to believe….
The New York Times, in an article investigating Sotomayor’s tenure with the group, reported that she was an active and ardent supporter of its legal efforts….
“It’s mind-boggling for her to try to distance herself by saying she didn’t read the brief,” said Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life….

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The final 2 Republican senators in the first round of questioning for Sonia SotomayorJohn Cornyn of TX and Tom Coburn of OK – have focused a good portion of their time on a topic that has largely been considered a non-issue in these confirmation hearings: abortion.
Coburn… asked Sotomayor what she believes to be settled law on abortion. Sotomayor replied that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey has “reaffirmed the core holding of Roe v. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy in certain circumstances.”
Cornyn, the first questioner today, probed Sotomayor about her “scant record” on abortion and asked her if there was any reason the White House moved to reassure abortion rights groups that there was no need to worry about her record on the issue. “You just have to look at my record to know that, in the cases that I addressed on all issues, I follow the law,” she said.
Anti-abortion sentiment has been present around the fringe of the hearings – evidenced by signs and banners outside the Hart Office Building and the 5 protesters who have been escorted out of Hart 216. Coburn’s and Cornyn’s focus on the issue could be a sign they’re focusing more on appeasing the GOP base than scrutinizing Sotomayor’s judicial record. In fact, in opening up his questioning, Coburn said: “A lot of Americans are watching this hearing. I want to use words that the American people can truly understand.”…

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