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July 12, 2009

A few confirmation questions for criminal justice fans from Senator Cornyn

As explained here, in the run up to Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing, Texas Senator John Cornyn for the last few weeks has been posting questions about Judge Sotomayor's record and her views on the law and the Constitution  The full list of questions can be found at this link, and here are a few of Senator Cornyn's 20 questions that might be of special interest to criminal justice fans:

Question 9: Are judges supposed to update the law to reflect changing social policy?

Question 10: What did Judge Sotomayor mean when she agreed that the Second Amendment does not protect a fundamental right?

Question 14: Has the Supreme Court made any missteps in the last fifty years that might justify public skepticism about lawyers and the courts?

Question 16: Should the Constitution be interpreted to allow the death penalty, and if so, under what limitations?

Obviously, only Question 16 is a "pure" criminal justice question.  But Question 9 seems especially relevant to modern Eighth Amendment doctrine, which is implicated by the big juve LWOP cases on the Supreme Court's docket.  And, as regular readers know, I think a declaration that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right could have profound implications for criminal justice administration.  And I could imagine lawyers and judges of all political stripes coming up with criminal-justice-related answers for Question 14 (which is the most intriguing question of this bunch).

July 12, 2009 at 03:42 PM | Permalink


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Isn't "evolving values" the same as "judge feelings?"

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 12, 2009 5:59:23 PM

As one of his constituents, I'd personally like to hear Cornyn's own answers to some of those questions, especially numbers 9 and 14. He was a former Texas AG and former member of the Texas Supreme Court, so if there's deserved "public skepticism about the laws and the courts" built up over the last 50 years, he's got as much to answer for on that score as Sotomayor.

On #9, in particular, I'd like to hear that question addressed (by both Sotomayor and Cornyn) in terms of the Fourth Amendment, where the "social policy" of crime fighting has long ago trumped the plain text of the Bill of Rights on search and seizure law. I can't think of an area where "social policy" has more blatantly trumped the law at SCOTUS' hands.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jul 13, 2009 12:13:01 PM

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