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PolitiFact: Sotomayor's place in mainstream was an issue

The statement

"No one questioned that she (Judge Sotomayor) was out of the mainstream."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,

The ruling

With the announcement that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring, speculation has turned to who President Barack Obama will nominate to replace him and how much of a fight Obama will encounter from Senate Republicans.

On ABC's This Week on Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he doesn't expect a Republican filibuster. What Republicans and Democrats alike want is "somebody who will follow the law, not make the law," he said, referring to the pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as evidence that Obama would choose someone "in the mainstream."

"If you look at who President Obama has nominated, somebody like Judge Sotomayor, who got nine Republicans to vote for her, no one questioned that she was out of the mainstream," Schumer said.

We checked the claim that "no one questioned that she (Sotomayor) was out of the mainstream."

A July 13, 2009, AP story quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions, the leading Judiciary Committee Republican, saying Sotomayor is "out of the mainstream" of legal thinking and has a very activist judicial profile. Sessions was among 31 Republican senators who voted against Sotomayor's confirmation.

In a news release issued Aug. 5, 2009, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., took issue with Sotomayor's ruling in a gun case, saying, it "shows an alarming hostility to law-abiding gun owners across the country. That is a view that is certainly out of the mainstream in this nation."

In a statement released on Aug. 4, 2009, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, cited what he called Sotomayor's "out of the mainstream judicial philosophy.''

In a news release two days later, Grassley said that at her confirmation hearing, Sotomayor tried to distance herself from several statements, "most likely recognizing that they were controversial and out of the mainstream."

A June 29, 2009, story in Roll Call noted that talking points prepared for House and Senate Republicans urged members to make the case that Sotomayor's written statements, rulings and speeches "show an out of the mainstream view."

Perhaps Schumer meant to say "hardly anyone" claimed Sotomayor was out of the mainstream. But his absolute claim that "no one questioned that she was out of the mainstream" isn't accurate. We rule his statement False.

Robert Farley, Times Staff Writer

This ruling has been edited for print. For a full version — and to read other rulings — go to

PolitiFact: Sotomayor's place in mainstream was an issue 04/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:16pm]
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