Colorado senator ‘inclined’ to back Sotomayor |

Colorado senator ‘inclined’ to back Sotomayor

Michael Riley
The Denver Post
Denver, CO Colorado

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall quizzed New York born-and-bred Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on issues important to the West today, then said he was “very inclined” to vote for her confirmation.

In a face-to-face meeting, the Boulder County Democrat asked Sotomayor about guns, public lands and water law.

Udall said she did not appear to know much about water law but understood the issue “may be the most challenging legal question we face over the next 25 to 50 years.”

Sotomayor also told Udall that she viewed a 2008 ruling that struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C, as “settled law,” giving insight into the impact she might have on Second Amendment cases if she is confirmed by the Senate after hearings in July.

“She comes across as an excellent jurist. She’s curious, she’s well-read, she’s very composed,” said Udall, an Eldorado Springs Democrat, who added that Sotomayor displayed a “deep and abiding respect for the law.”

Today was another day of whirlwind meetings between Sotomayor and the senators who hold her nomination in their hands. The New York appeals court judge has already met with dozens of them.

The meetings are as useful to make points with constituents back home as much as they are to get a firsthand look at the president’s nominee, something underscored by Udall’s probing on Western issues with which Sotomayor was likely to have little familiarity.

As an appeals judge on the Second Circuit in New York, Sotomayor has had little experience with complicated water law or public-lands cases.

But Udall said the answers he did get were convincing, including her statement on District of Columbia vs. Heller, which overturned a ban on handguns in the nation’s capital and represented a blow to gun-control advocates across the country.

In the 40-minute, closed-door meeting, Udall also asked Sotomayor about her now controversial statement that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience” would likely reach a better decision as a judge “than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

The comment in a 2001 speech has been repeated over and over by critics, some of whom have suggested it shows that Sotomayor is a racist.

“I believe she was talking about anyone of us bringing our personal experience to our life and the decisions we make,” Udall said. “I’m satisfied with her answer and would encourage others to read the context in which she made those remarks.”

Michael Riley: 303-954-1614 or

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