Former FBI Director Freeh To Endorse Sotomayor

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are set to begin next week, and the endorsements are flowing with increasing intensity. So, too, is the political maneuvering.

The drumbeat of support and opposition is beginning to sound a bit like Ravel's "Bolero" — a sort of one-sided Bolero.

The American Bar Association gave Sotomayor its highest rating on Tuesday. The vote was unanimous, based on hundreds of confidential interviews with Sotomayor's colleagues on and off the bench, and a review of her opinions by scholars and practitioners.

Then the Democrats rolled out endorsements by leading law enforcement organizations, including the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

"This is the judge that any beat officer can and will support," says Dave Hiller, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Republican leaders sought to offset the endorsement with their own offensive.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the senate floor with a critique of the New Haven firefighters decision that Sotomayor participated in when she was on the appeals court. It was a decision overturned last month by the Supreme Court.

"As we consider her nomination to the Supreme Court, my colleagues should ask themselves this important question: Is she allowing her personal or political agenda to cloud her judgment in favor of one group of individuals over another, regardless of what the law says?" McConnell asked.

But Republicans are having a hard time potraying Sotomayor as a radical. Even the National Rifle Association, while expressing serious concerns about the nominee, is not opposing her outright.

Later this week, former FBI Director Louis Freeh is expected to formally endorse her nomination in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Freeh got to know Sotomayor when the two served as federal trial judges in Manhattan.

He rejects outright any suggestion that she is an agenda-driven liberal judge.

"I think if you look at her opinions, she has a very conservative criminal justice, law enforcement appoach," Freeh says.

Beyond law enforcement, Freeh adds, as a conservative, he is unconcerned by her record. "I haven't read anything in her opinions that would make me think, from a conservative point of view, that there is anything 'radical' or off the maintstream."

Freeh got to know Sotomayor when she was first on the bench and he was assigned as her mentor. He actually sat with her during a couple of trials to make sure she knew the ropes. As it turns out, he says, the help was not needed.

"What struck me was how poised, confident and calm she was," Freeh says. "She had great rapport with the witnesses and juries."

Freeh also points to the fact that if confirmed, Sotomayor would be the only justice with experience as a trial judge.

"That's going to add great depth and, I think, perspective to the court," Freeh says.



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