Sotomayor hearings from a pro-life perspective

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If you follow BatesLine on Twitter (and you should), you'll have seen my tweet yesterday about Americans United for Life live-blogging the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. AUL has a legal focus, researching state and federal legislation, court cases, and court nominations that affect issues like abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

As soon as the nomination was announced AUL launched Sotomayor411, which provides the paper trail to show that, as bad as Justice David Souter has been on life issues, Sotomayor would be far worse. Another site, AskSotomayor.com, listed AUL's top ten questions for senators to ask the nominee and asked readers to vote for their favorite.

Veteran pro-life blogger Dawn Eden, AUL's Senior Fellow for Publications and New Media Outreach, is providing the Judiciary Committee play-by-play, with commentary from AUL president Charmaine Yoest. Eden is well-known for her thorough research on pro-life issues and for her knack for brevity, honed by years of headline writing for New York tabloids.

Here are a couple of updates from Okla. Sen. Tom Coburn's questioning of Sotomayor:

12:24 p.m. - Coburn continues critiquing Sotomayor's past statements. "You've taken the oath already twice, and if confirmed, will take it again." Reminds her of what the oath says -- "I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties ..." Notes that it doesn't reference foreign law, whereas Sotomayor has said we should take foreign law into consideration.

12:23 p.m. - Coburn says concerns over Sotomayor's past statements will guide his questioning. Is "deeply concerned" by Sotomayor's saying the law is "uncertain" and her praise for an "unpredictable" system of justice. We want justice to be predictable, he says.

Even if you aren't concerned about the sanctity of human life, a Supreme Court nominee who looks beyond the written Constitution and laws to "empathy" and foreign precedents as a basis for her rulings is a threat to the life, liberty, and property of every American, whether born or unborn.

Beyond the life-and-death issues at stake in these hearings, what AUL is doing should be of interest to organizations looking for social media best practices. Just as food needs to digested down into nutrients to get into circulation and reach all parts of the body, a complex news story needs to be digested into pieces that can easily be circulated via blogs and Twitter. There are sympathetic bloggers and Twitter users willing to spread the word, but they don't have time to do the digesting themselves.

Many organizations blast out detailed press releases to bloggers by e-mail (too often accompanied by unsolicited high-res publicity photos). These releases often sit unread and unblogged because they require too much time and effort to digest and turn into a blog post. They can't be turned into a tweet because the press releases exist only in e-mail and so can't be linked. Brief highlights that can be passed along with a couple of mouse-clicks, accompanied by pointers to more detailed analysis and documentation, are far more useful to a blogger/tweeter and more likely to circulate widely.

As James Lileks tweeted, "You want to be quoted? Speak in Lego pieces, not bolts of cloth."

I have only one suggestion for AUL: Post some of the live-blog updates to Twitter (@AUL) in real-time, with appropriate hashtags (#sotomayor and #sotoshow seem to be the most popular) with a shortened link back to the AUL's Sotomayor hearing live-blog.

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2 Comments

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

While it may be rare, I don't think its uncommon to look at foreign jurisdictions regarding novel issues of law. The only thing wrong I see is that it might be a bad idea, politically. The upholding of the Constitution notwithstanding, I think I would be more worried if judges were just "winging it" on novel issues, instead of a applying a considered study, well rounded and thoughtful. What did The Framers have to go on?

In fact, in novel issues of law research, when one can find no precedent in the jurisdiction where the issues sit, the general rule is to look for the identical issues of other jurisdictions for guidance. If something is found, it is considered persuasive; the judge can use it. If the extra-jurisdictional precedent is contrary to other similar issues, he/she can reject it, and they should.

The final outcome should be the correct outcome. That's conservative, no? That's what justice demands. I'm sure there is sound thought taking place outside the confines of the United States and its territories. We don't hold a monopoly on wisdom.

The problem comes when a judge uses foreign precedents as a basis for striking down or ignoring our own laws and Constitution. Lawrence v. Texas is an example of justices using foreign precedents as a basis to overturn a law they deemed insufficiently progressive and enlightened. If the Constitution is silent on a matter, it should be left entirely to the legislative branch.

Here's a summary of a speech Sotomayor gave in April on the subject that outlines the problems with her thinking on this subject.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 14, 2009 6:05 AM.

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