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Sonia Sotomayor Confirmed as Supreme Court Justice

She'll replace David Souter, but her dedication to the First Amendment is still unclear

Sonia Sotomayor Confirmed as Supreme Court Justice

WASHINGTON, D.C.—By a vote of 68-31, Second Circuit appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor has been confirmed as the 111th Supreme Court justice of the United States.

While Sotomayor's confirmation was never in doubt, with Democrats holding or controlling 60 Senate seats, it was nonetheless gratifying that nine Republicans voted against their party's adamant opposition to Sotomayor becoming the first Hispanic woman to hold a Supreme Court seat.

"Judge Sotomayor's decisions, while not always the decision I would render, are not outside the legal mainstream and do not indicate an obvious desire to legislate from the bench," Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, one of the Republicans to support the nomination, told MSNBC. "I have confidence that the parties who appear before her will encounter a judge who is committed to recognizing and suppressing any personal bias she may have to reach a decision that is dictated by the rule of law."

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Sotomayor's opposition had not changed much since her nomination in May to replace retiring Justice David Souter. Throughout the confirmation process, Republican senators such as Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions had focused on comments, usually taken out of context, that Sotomayor had made about her hopes that a "wise Latina" would be able to reach better conclusions in discrimination cases before the court than a "white male"; that she would be an "activist judge," refusing to follow precedent; that despite her Catholic background, she would be pro-choice; and that she opposed the Second Amendment right to own firearms.

"Judge Sotomayor's speech and article presents something of a perfect judicial storm where her views of judging meet her views of the law," Hatch said. "Combine partiality and subjectivity with uncertainty and instability in the law and the result is an activist judicial philosophy that I cannot support."

AVN has previously covered various aspects of Sotomayor's judicial record, including her failure to dissent from an adverse ruling on a free speech issue involving a Connecticut high school student, and her failure to uphold the right of a former child molester to own sexually explicit books and magazines featuring adults, even though she admitted at the time that "the term 'pornography' is inherently vague."

There is no question that Sotomayor has big shoes to fill, since among Justice Souter's many accomplishments was his realization, first in the Erie v. Pap's AM decision, and later in City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, that adult businesses should be able to present evidence in court to challenge the conclusions reached in so-called "secondary effects studies" used by cities to push adult businesses into industrial areas, to restrict their hours of operation or signage, or to prevent them from opening altogether.

The adult industry will anxiously await signs that the new justice will take the adult entertainment community's First Amendment rights seriously, starting with her questioning during Supreme Court arguments beginning in October.






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Mark Kernes

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