Free Markets, Free People


Sotomayor Nominated to SCOTUS

As a surprise to almost no one, Obama went with the candidate who fills the most quotas for his first Supreme Court pick. Since I’ve already covered what sort of Justice I think she’d be, I’ll just note that I think Obama picked the least qualified and most political of the three top contenders (Kagan and Wood being the others). Other than that, I don’t think her nomination will make much difference in the grand scheme of things.

Ilya Somin arrives at basically the same conclusion, and along the way takes special exception a particular statement from Sotomayor (my emphasis):

I am not yet sure what position to take on President Obama’s selection of Sonia Sotomayor. My general sense is that she is very liberal, and thus likely to take what I consider to be mistaken positions on many major constitutional law issues. I am also not favorably impressed with her notorious statement that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Not only is it objectionable in and of itself, it also suggests that Sotomayor is a committed believer in the identity politics school of left-wing thought. Worse, it implies that she believes that it is legitimate for judges to base decisions in part on their ethnic or racial origins.

Expect to see that quote get much airtime as Republicans seek some ground from which to undermine Sotomayor’s nomination.

As for whether or not the Republicans should go to the mat on this, it seems to me like a bad idea. I think there are certainly some troubling aspects to Sotomator’s candidacy (such as her quote above), but there is also almost zero possibility that she will not be confirmed. With 59 Democrats in the Senate, there is also little hope of fillibustering the nomination. Accordingly, if Republicans choose this particular hill to die upon, they spend political capital for no gain, and risk losing the ability to generate opposition to any subsequent nominees who may have more substantive influence on the direction of the Court (e.g. a replacement for Kennedy or Scalia).

Since it appears that taking on Sotomayor’s nomination is rife with bad consequences for the GOP, I think it is a very safe bet that they will pull out all the stops in order to oppose her. This will prove once again that, sometimes, it takes great effort to earn minority party status. In that endeavor, expect the Republicans to leave no stone unturned.

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10 Responses to Sotomayor Nominated to SCOTUS

  • I’m not so sure about your statemnet that it won’t change things much.
    Seems to me Obama managed to pick somone that could do the job I thought impossible…. come down to the left of Souter.

    • She still only gets one vote, so whether she comes down on the lefty side of an issue because she really, really, REALLY believes in it, or she is just easily persuaded to that side of the debate, makes no real difference in case outcomes.

  • So much for the theory that Obama would pick someone to “counter the intellectual firepower” of the conservative justices.

  • I predicted last week that The Clown™ would choose Wood, based on what a friend told me was told by the White House to several US Senators. Unfortunately, he went with Sotomayor. I made a few calls this morning, and someone I know who works on Capitol Hill told me that Wood was going to be the nominee until “something changed Obama’s thinking” at the last moment. Another Geithner tax problem? A nanny problem? Who knows anymore with this crowd?

    Well, I am sorry that my prediction was wrong. My problem was that those in the know relied on this Gang of Doofuses currently in the White House, and with such a group that is always a bad thing.

  •  “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

    Well, thank god our constitution was written by white males. I’d wager “wise Latinas” couldn’t do nearly as good.

  • “As for whether or not the Republicans should go to the mat on this, it seems to me like a bad idea.”

    I strongly disagree with Michael’s take.  That’s the approach that led conservatism and this country into our current predicament.  It’s true, Sotomayor will be replacing Souter and a reasonable person could argue that replacing him with a hard left liberal won’t result in that big a change in the court’s makeup.  However, Sotomayor is clearly someone who will take full advantage of her position to advance her liberal political agenda.  I think her recorded comment during the Duke Law School symposium is more damning than the quote in this post.  She was very brazen about legislating from the bench.  Someone that smug about abusing her authority as a judge should not be in a position of power in our society.  

    I think that a significant majority of Americans dislike racial identity politics and the more broadly Sotomayor’s attitude is known, the more people will begin to realize how radical Obama really is.  Sure, Obama is going to nominate liberals no matter what, but rolling over on this one will further demoralize conservatives and it will only weaken the Republican party.  In addition, who’s to say that this couldn’t be the first opportunity to stop part of Obama’s agenda.  He is pretty cocky right now and, so far, he’s done essentially everything he has wanted to do.  For that reason alone, Republicans should vigorously oppose every one of Obama’s judicial nominees.      

    I also remember back in 2001, when the Democrat controlled Senate Judiciary Committee prevented Miguel Estrada from getting his nomination hearing on orders from Ralph Neas, Nan Aron and the rest of the liberal, judicial attack dogs.  That infamous memo said  that the trolls had “identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.  They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible.”  That memo was a smoking gun proving that Democrats are bigots and that they will happily target minorities who wander off the liberal plantation.  Now Democrats are supporting the nomination of a judge who admits her racial identity controls her actions as a judge.  

     

       

    • Even assuming everything you say is correct, and that Sotomayor will be an unabashed lefty who legislates from the bench, how does any of that change the reality that (a) she’s replacing a lefty who legislated from the bench, and (b) the Republicans simply can’t win the battle?  If she was nominated to replace Kennedy or Scalia I could see why a fight would be necessary, but other than some cursory opposition it looks like political suicide to oppose the nomination in this case.  YMMV.

      • Look, you are probably right that they don’t have a chance of succeeding.  But they are guaranteed to fail if they don’t even try.  And I believe there are two potential benefits even if Sotomayor gets confirmed.  Republicans show that they are willing to take on liberals and the public will be exposed to more than the airbrushing that Sotomayor will inevitably get from the media.  I could be wrong about the extent to which Americans dislike identity politics, but I don’t think so.  Racial quotas are unpopular.  As an anecdote, about 15 years ago I was mentoring a 16 year old latino kid who lived in the projects in East LA.  He asked me if I supported affirmative action.  I told him that I supported it in principle but I thought it had degraded into racial quotas that I thought were wrong.  I halfway expected him to get upset, but I told him the truth  He then told me that he didn’t think it was right to favor one race over another and that he didn’t think it was right to have black history month at his school because there were kids with all kinds of racial backgrounds at his school, none of the other races had their own history month and he wouldn’t want latino history month anyway.  I was kind of surprised, but here was a poor kid who most people would expect to support a program that he might very well benefit from; yet, he was opposed to the unfairness of quotas.  Granted he is latino, and maybe he would support Sotomayor but I bet there are african americans and asians who may not want a Supreme Court Justice who has admitted that her latina background influences her actions as a judge.  I’m just saying that a little sunlight wouldn’t hurt and Sotomayor sure won’t get any from the MSM.  That will only happen if congressional Republicans get a backbone. 

    • I agree with jt007: the GOP should strongly oppose the nomination.  First of all, it would appear that Sotomayor has no business being a judge, let a along a justice.  While she may or may not be a worse justice than Souter, do we really want a justice on the bench who so openly and brazenly plays the race card (as an aside, I wonder how she would deal with blacks or Asians who appear before her).

      Second, the GOP has done far too much rolling over.  Led by the likes of McCain, Graham, the turncoat Spector, the Maine gals, etc, they seem more interested in playing the Senate “collegiality game” and trying to appear “reasonable” in the interests of getting on the Sunday morning news shows.  Well, the GOP base is getting pretty tired of GOP politicos who don’t stand up against the filthy dems (spit).  Failure to oppose Sotomayor will be correctly perceived as cowardice on the part of the GOP, inducing more Republicans to keep their check books closed and even stay home on election day.  Why bother to support a party that will not stand up for its (alleged) principles?

      Yes, I know: fervent opposition to Sotomayor will doubtless be portrayed as typical GOP bashing of a poor, defensewess widdle woman and even RACISM.  However, a vigorous and TRUTHFUL exposure of her record (which, as I understand it, is less than dazzling) as well as incendiary statements such as the one above will allow the American people to see exactly WHY she should be opposed.  I think jt007 is right that most Americans don’t like quotas; when it becomes apparent that TAO is essentially using quotas to fill Supreme Court vacancies, it won’t look good for him.