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Activist: A Woman Should Replace Souter on High Court

May 11, 2009

Albany, NY – A New York federal appeals judge, Sonia Sotomayor, is said to be on the short list to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) the choice of a female nominee – whether Sotomayor or someone else – is a must for President Obama.

Senior counsel Amy Matsui says that while the NWLC is not backing any particular individual, it is urging the President to choose a woman.

"Given the fact that women are half the population, they make up a third of all lawyers and even almost a third of the federal bench, we feel like the Supreme Court needs more than one woman."

President Reagan nominated the court's first female justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, in 1981. Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined the Supreme Court bench in 1993 and is now the only female justice, after O'Connor retired in 2006.

"A strong woman is the right person to fill this job. Given that there's only one woman on the Supreme Court, it's really time that there was another," says Matsui. "As Justice Ginsberg herself has said, women bring a unique perspective to the Court. Their experience helps them understand the impact that the Supreme Court's decisions will have on real women's lives."

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has promised to push back if he perceives the nominee to be obligated to a specific minority or interest group. Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which will hold the confirmation hearings, has said he wouldn't automatically be opposed to a pro-choice candidate or even an openly-gay nominee. Matsui finds that encouraging.

"I think that's a very good sign, that Senator Sessions is going to be looking at an individual's legal record, and hopefully will be able to vote for someone who upholds legal rights that women and all Americans have relied on for the last thirty years."

Justice Souter intends to resign when the current Court's term ends in June.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY