Senate Sends Sotomayor To The Supreme Court

Senate votes 68 to 31 to confirm

As expected, the Supreme Court has voted federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court.

The vote was 68 to 31. Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the court.

The White House tapped Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sotomayor last May as its choice for the next Supreme Court Justice, succeeding retiring Justice David Souter.

The Second Circuit has been active in the indecency issue, hearing both the Fox fleeting profanities case and the NYPD Blue nudity decision challenge, but Sotomayor was not on either panel hearing those cases.

But she will be on the High Court if either the fleeting profanity or nudity cases wind up there, as is likely.

When asked by new Minnesota Senator Al Franken during her confirmation hearing about network neutrality, her answer was noncommittal.

"Congress is the policy chooser on how items related to interstate commerce and communications operate," she said. "That issue was reviewed by the courts in the context of the policy choices Congress made. There is no question in my mind that the Internet has revolutionized communication in the United States. And there's no question that access to that is a question that our society is concerned about. The role of the court is not to make the policy, it's to wait until Congress acts.

Also in the hearings, Sotomayor said she did not believe, as a matter of law, that the government could take private property without just compensation. But she also said that what constituted a taking was a complex issue. For example, she said, there was a difference between taking someone's home, for example, and a regulation that may or may not include a taking.

The takings clause is of interest to the cable industry because it is used by cable operators in their arguments against must-carry. The FCC's rule requiring cable operators to carry local TV station signals was upheld by a 5-4 Supreme Court in the Turner case.