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BJC: Souters church-state record hard to replace, hopes Sotomayor does just that

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Jeff Huett | Phone: 202-544-4226 | 202-680-4127
Cherilyn Crowe| Phone: 202-544-4226 | 615-519-0620

May 26, 2009

WASHINGTON - While retiring Justice David Souter's church-state record will be difficult to replace, the Baptist Joint Committee hopes that President Barack Obama's nominee for the High Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, will do just that.

"More than any other justice, Justice Souter has reflected the Baptist Joint Committee's understanding of the proper interpretation of the religion clauses and how they apply to contemporary church-state issues," said BJC Executive Director J. Brent Walker.

Judge Sotomayor has impressive credentials and extensive judicial experience. Her time working as a prosecutor and her time working in a private law firm before her appointment to the federal bench give her experience in many different aspects of law.

Sotomayor also enjoyed bipartisan support in her career. She was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush and elevated to the appeals court by President Bill Clinton.

She has dealt with a variety of cases in her time on the bench, including the 1995 Major League baseball strike, copyright infringement regarding the "Senifeld" television program, and claims from vicitms' families in the TWA flight 800 crash. She has also made rulings and written opinions on cases regarding the First Amendment's religion clauses.

Walker said more important than ideology, Justice Souter's successor "should be a thoughtful, fair-minded, hard working jurist. After all, that is what Justice Souter has been for nearly two decades."

The BJC looks forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor by carefully reviewing her record and the confirmation hearings.

The Baptist Joint Committee is a 73-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty organization that works to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, bringing a uniquely Baptist witness to the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government. 

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