Sotomayor leaves favorable impression on Udall

By Lucy McFadden
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, left his meeting with Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor Thursday morning feeling impressed and awed by her love for law.

“I’m inclined to support her, and, at the same time, I take my responsibility seriously. I will be watching the hearings and studying her further,” Udall told reporters.

Udall was particularly impressed by Sotomayor’s grasp of water law, noting that she told him she had discussed the importance of water law in the West with President Barack Obama.

“She told him (water law) might be the most important area the Supreme Court would be called upon to rule on in the 21st century,” Udall said.

Udall said she reported that Obama was surprised at the statement, but after listening to her reasoning, he understood its significance.

Colorado’s senior senator expressed admiration for Sotomayor’s expansive knowledge of historical, boundary-related water cases.

“Many of the cases that winded their way through the court system were those dealing with boundaries — who had access to a stream or river. She was well-versed in common and case law in the early laws of our democracy,”
said Udall.

Udall said Sotomayor told him that she considers the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling on the Second Amendment in Heller v. DC to be settled law, clearly delineating that individuals — and not just state-regulated militias — have the right to keep and bear arms.

When asked whether Sotomayor had expressed an opinion on same-sex marriage, Udall responded that she had not.

“One of the reasons I respect the judge is that she is not willing to speculate or deal with hypothetical questions. It is not appropriate. She can talk in general terms and her record is there for everyone to study,” Udall said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin Sotomayor’s hearings on July 13, 48 days after her nomination.

When Udall was asked whether the scheduling of Sotomayor’s Senate hearing in July seemed speedy, Udall replied that it was reasonable compared to hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts, who was confirmed 72 days after he was nominated by President George W. Bush. He believes it’s crucial to have the ninth justice on board before the Supreme Court reconvenes in the fall. And, although he will wait for the hearings before making a firm decision, he tentatively supports her appointment.

Lucy@coloradostatesman.com