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U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn wants more time before Sotomayor hearings

CHRIS CASTEEL, Washington Bureau Published: June 7, 2009

Like an umpire
Many conservatives have blasted Sotomayor for saying — in a speech away from the bench in 2001 — that "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Coburn said he didn’t think the comment was necessarily disqualifying for a seat on the nation’s highest court.

But, he said, life experiences "are not supposed to impact you on the court.”

He said he agreed with the analogy made by Chief Justice John Roberts, who said during his confirmation in 2005 that a judge was supposed to be like an umpire, applying rules rather than making them.

Leahy said attacks made against Sotomayor for the "wise Latina woman” remark entitle her to answer the criticisms quickly.

Coburn said he was concerned about another comment made by Sotomayor, in which she said the federal appeals court level was where "policy is made.” He said he would be combing her legal opinions to determine whether she was "concerned about making policy” from the bench.