Sotomayor Asked about Campaign Finance and Election Law Issues
by Amanda Adams*
Jul 17, 2009
During Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) asked Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor how she would hear a case involving the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. If confirmed, the first case she will hear is the re-argument of Citizens United. Feingold stated that if Austin is overturned, the Court "may usher in an era of unlimited corporate spending on elections that the nation has not seen since the 19th century." Sotomayor responded:
"Given that existence of that case, the very first one, I think it would be inappropriate for me to do anything to speak about that area of the law because it would suggest that I'm going into that process with some prejudgment about what precedent says and what it doesn't say and how to apply it in the open question the court is considering. I appreciate what you have said to me. But this is a special circumstance, given the pendency of that particular case."
She was asked about other recent campaign finance cases including Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder and Caperton v. Masey. In 1996, Sotomayor wrote a law review article on campaign financing and the heavy hand that private corporate interests play in the funding candidates. Senator Coryn (R-TX) asked, "what is the difference, to your mind, between a political contribution and a bribe?" Further, Cornyn asked, "are you basically painting with such a broad brush when it comes to people's rights under the First Amendment to participate in the political process, either to volunteer their time, make in-kind contributions, make financial contributions? Do you consider that a form of bribery or in any way improper?"
And Sotomayor responded, "No, sir."back to Blog