Supreme Court

Did Sotomayor Perjure Herself on Abortion?

| by Jill Stanek

UPDATE: The Americans United for Life blog has a new post entitled, "Sotomayor contradicted herself on what she knew about PRLDEF abortion advocacy." This includes a statement made by Sotomayor only yesterday morning during the Senate hearings on her Supreme Court confirmation explaining her involvement with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund that directly contradicted with her testimony in the afternoon expressing ignorance about 6 radical pro-abortion briefs PRLDEF filed.

In her testimony yesterday, Americans United for Life's Charmaine Yoest made the case that Sonia Sotomayor would be a pro-abortion radical on the Supreme Court.

Yoest detailed radical pro-abortion briefs submitted by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, of which Sotomayor was a board member...

During the 12 years that Judge Sotomayor served as a governing board member of the PRLDEF, the organization filed 6 amicus briefs in 5 abortion-related cases before the Supreme Court....

Sotomayor served the PRLDEF "at various points" as a member and vice president of the Board of Directors, and as Chairperson of the Education and Litigation Committees. Judge Sotomayor was described in The New York Times as "frequently meeting with the legal staff to review the status of cases... [and] play[ing] an active role as the defense fund staked out aggressive stances on issues.... The board monitored all litigation undertaken by the fund's lawyers, and a number of those lawyers said Ms. Sotomayor was an involved and ardent supporter of their various legal efforts during her time with the group."

It is difficult to imagine that a member of the Board of a legal organization that has staked out a pro-abortion advocacy agenda, who was "an ardent supporter of their legal efforts," would not agree with the organization's decision to sign onto amicus briefs in major Supreme Court cases....

In those briefs PRLDEF opposed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, opposed informed consent before abortion, opposed waiting periods before abortion, opposed parental involvement, supported mandatory taxpayer funding of abortion at both the state and federal levels, opposed record keeping and reporting requirements as "harrass[ment]," and compared abortion to a First Amendment right.

Which brings us to Sotomayor's potential perjury yesterday, as blogged by AUL's Dawn Eden:

12:19 p.m. - Hatch brings up the PRLDEF briefs and notes Sotomayor served on a dozen different leadership positions during her 12 years on the fund's board. Says he wants to ask questions regarding abortion cases in which the fund filed briefs....

Brings up amicus brief comparing refusing to use Medicaid funds for abortion to the Dred Scott case. "Did you know the fund was filing this brief?"

Sotomayor: "No sir."

Asks if she knew the fund was making its Dred Scott argument.

Sotomayor: "No."

He runs down a line of questions asking if she ever made any objections to the arguments made in the brief. She responds: "I was not a lawyer on the fund. ... I was a board member." Says it was not her practice to review the briefs.

He cites the fund's Ohio brief [in which PRLDEF argued against parental involvement laws] and begins running down the same list of questions. Did she know the fund was filing this brief?

Sotomayor: "No." Says she knew generally that they were filing briefs but didn't know of the brief until after the fact.

He brings up the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey brief [in which PRLDEF argued against informed consent and waiting periods] and asks the same questions.

Sotomayor: "For the same reason, no."

She may have just perjured herself. The Judicary Committee has the minutes of the PRLDEF litigation committee's meetings, showing that Sotomayor was briefed on pending litigation. It would be interesting to compare the dates of the briefings with the dates of those briefs Sotomayor claims she never saw in advance.

Eden then referred to the Republican Senate Leader Board blog that evaluated the meeting notes:

PRLDEF Committee minutes show deeper involvement than acknowledged....

PRLDEF Litigation Committee minutes confirm that board members including Judge Sotomayor were routinely briefed on litigation status....

When Sotomayor was chairperson of the Litigation Committee, she briefed the board on current litigation....

The Leader Board blog reposted the leadership positions Sotomayor held at PRLDEF, per her response to a questionnaire to Sen. Jeff Sessions:

-- Member of the Board of Directors: 1980-1992
-- Education and Professional Development Committee: 1980
-- Nominations Committee: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 199
-- Litigation Committee: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1991
-- Chairperson of the Litigation Committee: 1983, 1984, 1987, and 1988
-- Executive Committee: 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988
-- Treasurer: 1982
-- Special Vice Chair of the Board: 1984, 1985
-- Second Vice Chair of the Board: 1986
-- First Vice Chair of the Board: 1987, 1988
-- Finance Committee: 1986, 1987, 1988
-- Personnel Committee: 1988

Here are the dates PRLDEF submitted its amicus briefs on these abortion-related cases before the Supreme Court:
-- Williams v. Zbaraz, 1980
-- Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 1989
-- Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health,1990
-- Rust v. Sullivan, 1991
-- Planned Parenthood v. Casey , 1992

And Sotomayor was completely oblivious to every single one? She had nothing to do with any other them? I find this very hard to believe. I expect Republican staffers have been scouring PRLDEF committee meeting notes all night.

This information is important because it not only shows Sotomayor may have perjured herself yesterday, but it shows she as a Supreme Court justice would oppose common sense legislation passed by the people that even David Souter most often supported.