156 Conservatives Urge Senate to Reject Sotomayor

Opposition against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been spelled out on paper by 156 conservative and constitutional cause leaders and citizens.

"We urge the Senate to reject Judge Sotomayor. Judge Sotomayor should remain a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals where her decisions would be subject to the check of the Supreme Court," they state in a letter, released Thursday.

The letter addressed to the Senate comes just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed its vote on Sotomayor's nomination until July 28. But Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the committee, is confident Sotomayor will win confirmation by a bipartisan vote, according to The Associated Press.

On Wednesday, key conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he would support Sotomayor, arguing that she is "one of the most qualified" high court choices in decades with a 17-year record on the federal bench.

Richard A. Viguerie of Conservative HQ.com and one of the signers of the letter wants to send out a message that while Republicans may not be unified in opposing President Obama's high court pick, conservatives and other constitutionalists are united.

The 156 signatories point out that Sotomayor went on record at her confirmation hearing last week to reject "the underlying judicial philosophy" of Obama, who nominated her.

Obama said he would nominate someone with "empathy" and "who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook." It was later noted, by presidential advisor David Axelrod, that Obama chose Sotomayor because "he wanted someone whose philosophy of judging was his" which was to be ready to adapt the law and constitutional principles to a modern context.

Last week, however, Sotomayor said she wouldn't approach the issue of judging the way the president does.

Conservatives and Christian groups believe Sotomayor appeared to have "a confirmation conversion" about following the law, not personal preferences.

"We the undersigned believe that Judge Sotomayor did have a confirmation conversion, perhaps based on her realization that the judicial philosophy she shares with President Obama is in fact disqualifying for confirmation to our highest court, or perhaps because that judicial philosophy is unpopular. It is not an objectionable judicial philosophy that judges may check constitutional abuses by the other branches. However, a judicial philosophy that goes beyond the authority granted by Article III of the Constitution should be disqualifying," the letter states.

"Given that an appointment to the Supreme Court is for life, the statements by the President and his advisors, and Judge Sotomayor's pre-confirmation statements that conflicted with her confirmation testimony, we believe her judicial philosophy is indeed one that should disqualify her from appointment to the Supreme Court."

The conservatives, who also include individuals from the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, and Mission America, further warn that Sotomayor's rulings "demonstrate that if she is consistently 'empathetic' at all, it is in favor of government power, even beyond constitutional constraints."

Opponents, including Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, say Sotomayor's speeches suggest she has been shaped by her experiences and ethnic heritage as a Hispanic woman.

"Her attempt to recharacterize these speeches at the committee hearing strained credulity," Kyl said in a statement. "Unfortunately, I have not been persuaded that Judge Sotomayor is absolutely committed to setting aside her biases and impartially deciding cases based upon the rule of law."

A federal judge in New York since 1992, Sotomayor was nominated to replace retiring Justice David Souter.