JUST hours after US judge Sonia Sotomayor was selected to fill the upcoming on the US Supreme Court, special interest groups launched investigations into the "dreaded activist" in her, sifting decisions and speeches for proof.
Sotomayor, who has drawn criticism from conservative groups such as the Judicial Confirmation Network, a body that says it works to "ensure a fair appointment process and the confirmation of highly qualified judges", will soon answer her critics' drumbeat of accusations of judicial activism in confirmation hearings.
Accusations of judicial activism will mean different things to scholars, politicians and special interest groups, but in political rhetoric it represents decisions in which people disagree on ideological grounds, pretending to criticise them in a neutral way, as the National Law Journal reports.
Critics are focusing on Sotomayor's 2001 speech about how her background as a Latina might affect her decision-making, as well as her participation in a per curiam opinion in a controversial New Haven firefighters' race discrimination challenge.
"To us, the most important factor in that 2001 discussion where she talks about race and gender was that it came from a judicial activist mindset," said Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network.
"The judicial activist view is judge-centered. She will put factors outside the law as important contributing factors in decision-making. She isn't a servant of the law," reports the National Law Journal.
Another critic, M. Edward Whelan III, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has claimed that judicial activism is "best used to describe whether the judicial intrudes on the realm of other branches".
Whelan said he is still "digesting" Sotomayor's opinions. "What I haven't seen by Judge Sotomayor is an embrace of deterministe principles of constitutional interpretation. Without that, there are no bounds on the judicial role, nothing to keep one from being a judicial activist," he said.