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The Record of Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Critical Legal Rights for Women: The Center's Criteria

The Center's Criteria

July 2009

The National Women's Law Center has worked for over 35 years to expand opportunities and eliminate barriers for women and their families, with a major emphasis on the areas of family economic security, education and employment, and health. Women have won core legal rights over the last four decades, such as the right to reproductive choices, the right to equal opportunities in the workplace and schools, and a broad range of other legal protections that promote women's well-being and safety. The Center has engaged in substantial public education and outreach activities, including this report, to provide the public with information not only about the legal records of judicial nominees, but of the importance of a fair and independent judiciary more generally, as well as of the underlying legal rights.

In addition to meeting the necessary requirements of honesty, integrity, character, temperament, intellect, and lack of bias in applying the law, to be confirmed to a federal judgeship a nominee should be required to demonstrate a commitment to protecting the rights of ordinary American citizens and the progress that has been made on civil rights and individual liberties, including core constitutional principles and statutes that protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses, in particular, on a nominee's record on prohibitions against sex discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause, the constitutional right to privacy (which includes the right to terminate a pregnancy and related aspects of women's reproductive rights and health), as well as the statutory provisions that protect women's legal rights in such fundamental areas as education, employment, health and safety, and social welfare. In addition, access to justice and public benefits represent additional areas of importance to women, and thus to the Center.