So Obama picked Sotomayer:
President Obama has decided to nominate the federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, choosing a daughter of Puerto Rican parents raised in Bronx public housing projects to become the nation’s first Hispanic justice, officials said Tuesday.
The decision, to be announced Tuesday morning, will be Mr. Obama’s first selection to the Supreme Court and could trigger a struggle with Senate Republicans who have indicated they may oppose the nomination. But Democrats control nearly the 60 votes necessary to choke off a filibuster and even Republicans said they have little hope of blocking confirmation barring unforeseen revelation.
Judge Sotomayor, 54, who has served for more than a decade on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals based in New York City, would become the nation’s 111th justice, replacing David H. Souter, who is retiring after 19 years on the bench. Although Justice Souter was appointed by the first President George Bush, he became a mainstay of the liberal faction on the court and so his replacement by Judge Sotomayor likely would not shift the overall balance of power.
No doubt one aspect of this pick is that it saves Jeffrey Rosen from having to gossip with the clerks who have worked with Elena Kagan and Diane Wood, and I think I speak for everyone when I note we are all worse off because of that. That kind of penetrating analysis and insightful commentary is just the kind of hard-hitting journalism that is going to breathe life into the dying print media.
Something I didn’t know about Sotomayor until this morning was that she is diabetic:
A frontrunner for the post, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is a Type One diabetic. It is one of the more compelling aspects to an already compelling biography. And while hardly a debilitating disease — indeed, recent medical advancements have made it quite manageable to live with — there remain enough late-in-life health implications to have sparked debate in legal, political and medical circles. Just how relevant are medical issues to Sotomayor’s or any other potential Supreme Court nomination?
“It is obligatory [to look at this]” said Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN and author of “The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court.” “The issue of duration of service for a Supreme Court nominee is critical to any president, and thus health and medical issues are very much at the forefront of their considerations… It would be irresponsible for any president not to make the health of the nominee a major subject of concern, because presidents want decades of service from their nominees.”
You have to wonder how having a pre-existing condition will shape Sotomayor’s own opinions about legal matters relating to the health insurance industry. The attacks on Sotomayor will be predictable, with the Republicans dusting off their “No Activist Judges!” t-shirts and “Strict Constitutionalists are #1” foam fingers. In my email this morning, shortly after the pick, there was a link to a post representative of what I think we can all expect:
That’s not very surprising in so far that Sotomayor seems to be the perfect judge from Obama’s perspective. She is a woman, from a minority, she is left-wing, and she believes that judges have the responsibility to make law. That’s exactly what he wants, of course: an activist judge.
The “she believes that judges have the responsibility to make law” is going to be a popular one, as it stems from her comments on a panel that have been widely distorted and most likely will give Jeffrey Toobin an ulcer over the next few months. Good luck beating back that talking point.
Politically, this pick is filled with land mines for Republicans, giving them the opportunity to sound like clods to hispanics and female voters, and given their remarkable tone-deafness the last couple of years, I’m sure they can manage to shave a few points off their already historically low popularity. Jeff Sessions should be a load of fun to watch. Additionally, because of the amount of time between when she was chosen and when Obama would like the vote to happen, it is going to be difficult for them to drag their feet the way they want to. For Republicans, the calculus is drag this out as long as possible, make it as ugly as possible, and hope it gets the base to give money. Should be entertaining.
What do I think about all this? Pretty much what I thought when Roberts and Alito were confirmed. A president deserves his picks, and unless they are incompetent or decidedly out of the mainstream or there is some exceptional reason to keep them off the bench, they should be confirmed. I’m sure lots of you disagree with that position, but that is what I think. Elections matter. Obama should get his picks.
At any rate, it would be nice to know what the woman actually thinks and what her past decisions have looked like, but I can’t seem to find much of anything about that. I find all sorts of process/horse-race stuff, as well as a smattering of stuff about her temperament (thanks, TNR!), but very little in the way of what she thinks or the impact of her decisions. That is where you all come in. Throw the links in the comments.
No Sugar, No Peace!
As to the actual pick by President Obama – I haven’t looked at her enough as of yet to make a snarky comment
I was curious about that myself, and found this link at SCOTUSblog this morning via Scott Lemieux at LGM. Haven’t read it all yet, but it at least looks like a start.
I for one would not mind seeing the Dems ram this nomination right down republican throats…
While I don’t have much of an opinion, I do not plan on holding my breath waiting for Republicans to bray demanding a straight up or down vote…..
Johnathan Turley on MSNBC essentially said she was stupid. And it begins.
I’m waiting for Ben Nelson to say he can’t vote for her and will support a filibuster against her nomination.
What’s a guy gotta to to get his ass booted from the Democratic Party anyhow?
Damn you Nonynony! :)
Well, can I claim something here? I said it was going to be one of three people: Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor, or Pamela Karlan. For a while I was convinced that it was going to be Wood, because she’s supposedly all sorts of brilliant (more on that in a second) and can match the firepower of someone like Richard Posner and because Obama supposedly knew her from when they were both teaching at Chicago. Then I realized that there’s no way the White House would give up the surprise factor that puts everyone in a good mood, so the reports that he met with Wood were just a form of consolation for the fact that she wasn’t getting it. I was almost certain it was going to be Sotomayor, for a few reasons, not least because of the inspiring theatrics. And sure enough, I found out I was right this morning.
Anyway, I’m rewinding my DVR now to see what Johnathon Turley specifically said, but before on MSNBC, he seemed to criticize Sotomayor, saying he wasn’t impressed with her opinions that he had read and that legal scholars like himself were hoping for someone like Harold Koh or Diane Wood, both of whom he said were “blazzingly brilliant.” I have absolutely no way of reaching an informed opinion on this one without relying on people who have the background to know what they are talking about, so while I am definitely giving her an open mind, not least of all because Obama was a constitutional law professor, I’m curious if there’s anything substantial to his criticism. Is he saying he disagrees with her opinions, or more importantly, that they were poorly reasoned?
I’ve also heard some people complaining about her age, saying that Obama should have nominated some infant to the SC so that he or she would be there for decades and decades. Personally, I think the entire argument is silly. I’ve known two people in their 30’s, both in perfect health, who dropped dead from brain aneurysms. Youth and current good health are absolutely no guarantees of longevity. Besides, 55 isn’t exactly ancient.
… and Ben Nelson should be pretty disgusting to watch. He’s on record that he might favor a fillibuster.
Sotomayor’s appointment has to have one republican supporter in order to get out of committee. That used to be Spector. Who’s it going to be now? Will her appointment get killed before it ever comes to the full senate?
“I for one would not mind seeing the Dems ram
this nominationa large, sharp stick right down republican throats…”
It would be nice to actually watch a Republican senator carry through on a threat to filibuster, just so their polling numbers can drop another 5-10 points while he does it…
The immediate response I have to this pick is “she’s not Harriet Miers.” My biggest problem with the Miers pick was her lack of judicial and even courtroom experience (she was always more an office manager than a courtroom lawyer or judge). Although part of me still think Dubya tabbed her as a decoy to force massive outrage so that when he went with Alito people wouldn’t complain about Alito’s back-history (Alito was responsible for the uptick in signing statements from Reagan on up, and promoted the Unitary Executive theory that has shredded constitutional balance over the decades). But that would assume that Dubya was more crafty than we know. Anyway, I digress.
The really sad thing? The bleeping Beltway media types already have their scripts planned out for this, most of them having made up their minds about Sotomayor. It’s not going to be a smooth confirmation because they’ve already decided not to let be smooth.
I have to ask: have confirming Supreme Court justices always been this nasty, or has the Roe decision made it what it is now?
The real question here is how many more points can the GOP lose with the Hispanic voters? When they come blazing after Sotomayor there is no way in Hell they’ll be able to fight that meme. Also, who will be the first to mention that W’s dad appointed her to her first federal bench position in NY?
If the Democrats can elect a significally better Senator from Nebraska, then he should get his ass primaried out of the Senate.
Since I doubt that this is currently possible, there’s only stupid reasons for booting him. Unless one has a desire to follow GOP down the well.
Naturally, I’d like to see Sotomayor on the Court– But the political calculation is straightforward: Obama wins no matter what happens to the nomination. A relevant historical comparison would be the way Nixon cemented the Southern Strategy with the unsuccessful nominations of Haynesworth and Carswell.
To mix metaphors, the ball is now in the Repub court, and they will most likely drive it into a ditch.
I don’t remember where I read it, but supposedly, Republicans pick younger justices than Democrats have picked. It’s not by a wide margin, usually only a few years, but when you consider that a presidential term is four years, it’s not the stupidest thing to worry about.
I think my favorite GOP talking point is “she’s too empathetic”.
“Sociopaths for SCOTUS!”
What made it nasty was when the Dems refused to go along with the appointment of someone who was the hack that carried out the Saturday Night Massacre for Nixon
to the Supreme Court and the Republicans were POed that they were not able to politically payoff the guy off with such a plum appointment.
Apparently the party that brought us Sarah Palin is complaining that Sotomayor is not smart enough and was only picked because she is a woman.
I’m sure she’ll be questioned about her diabetes. I hope they inform themselves about it first, though. Diabetes care has improved tremendously in the last 30 years. Given that she’s functioned well on the bench for 20 years, or whatever it is, indicates to me that she knows how to manage her health. However, it is an issue because things like low blood glucose levels can affect, um, judgment in the immediate and further complications can occur (i.e., eyes, blood flow to the extremities, neuropathy, cardio risk, etc.).
@PaulW: The big issue has likely been the effect of extended age upon the SCOTUS. As justices serve for longer terms before their health gives way, there are fewer confirmation hearings, thus each one becomes more important. The solution would be to make a SCOTUS term a limited term of something like 18 years, which would give the president a new appointment every 2 years.
It was the failed Robert Bork nomination. Republicans have been trying to extract revenge for that for the past 20 years.
If that’s the case, then every president should be picking women, as we traditionally have a longer lifespan. I’m just saying that if SC justices had an enforced retirement age of 75, then picking someone younger would make more sense. But my understanding is that they retire when they want, or when they die, whichever comes first. So you could have 2 justices, one appointed at 43 and one appointed at 53, and there is really no guarantee that the 43-year-old won’t come down with cancer and die in 5 years, while the 53-year-old might remain healthy and sharp as a tack up until their late 80’s.
IIRC, the really nasty era for SCOTUS confirmation fights started when Nixon tried to nominate several flagrant bigots to the court as part of the Southern strategy and had them slapped down by a coalition of liberal Dems and liberal Republicans (yes, Virginia, there used to be liberal Republicans) in the Senate. That was when the modern tradtion of the WH and the Senate playing chicken began. The fight over the Bork nomination took it up a notch after that, followed by the circus atmosphere of the Thomas confirmation fight, and voila, what we have today – SCOTUS confirmations as the continuation of war by other means.
A few questions for the group:
1. If Obama serves two terms, as I suspect he will, how many more justices will he get to appoint? Assuming they want to step down before they are dead cold in the seats, Stevens and Ginsburg could easily need replacements in the coming years. I’m pretty certain that at least one will need a replacement in the next few years and it’s not out of the question to think both will be replaced. If people are upset that he’s not picking an academic now, can’t they be relieved that he will likely have at least one, and more than likely have two, chances to pick someone like Diane Wood? Perhaps Obama reasoned that it’s easier to get someone like Sotomayor in now rather than later.
2. This is based on memory, so if I am wrong, forgive me, but back when Bush was appointing justices, people mentioned that some Republican picks who advanced to the court weren’t known as stars. I think O’Connor and Thomas were mentioned. This isn’t to say they were ludicrous nominations like that of Harriet Miers, only that there have always been complaints that the pick isn’t an intellectual powerhouse but that in the end, the pick turned out to be fine. Does anyone have anything to add here?
President Obama will nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor
If confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, Judge Sotomayor, 54, would replace Justice David H. Souter to become the second woman on the court and only the third female justice in the history of the Supreme Court. She also would be the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court.
See details of her biography:Judge Sonia Sotomayor-news-online
Shawn in ShowMe
Chris Bowers, who teeters between lucidity and poutrage, actually provided some useful information at Open Left this morning. Robert Bennett, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Orin Hatch, Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe all voted to confirm her federal appeals court nomination back in 1997.
She’ll get out of committee. Sure, the wingnut army will move the dial to eleven but none of the above need to appease the shrinking GOP base in order to get re-elected in their state.
The coverage is so unfair! We need a dueling speech by Cheney suggesting what Real American ™ should have been nominated.
Oh, absolutely. I don’t think it’s a ridiculous thing to consider when making a decision, but it’s definitely low on the list of priorities.
The whole discussion is kind of silly, if you think that we’re talking about a pretty small sample size.
They figure that the average person is confused and think empathetic is the same as sympathetic and that therefore they will think that the Dems are openly trying to appoint someone who wants to tilt the playing field in favor of Democratic donors and insiders.
Not completely ridiculous since Claude Pepper barely lost a senate seat when:
The week that Souter announced his retirement, Bill Maher joked that the Republicans were convinced that Obama’s pick was outrageous and unacceptable for all sorts of reasons and that as soon as they knew who it would be, they’d let the rest of us know why. It’s clear he’s wrong because…oh, wait.
Lolwhut? I completely disagree with this. The Senate has an obligation to advise and consent to the President’s choice of justice. Perhaps I can see this general courtesy extended to Cabinet picks (which, btw, it rarely is anyway) because these people are – at the end of the day – just executing the specific details of the President’s broader policy. The President has already been elected, so blocking him from performing his job really isn’t productive.
But if there is a legitimate concern against a Justice – like there was in the case of Bork (batshit crazy!) or Thomas (womanizing hobo with the intellectual curiosity of a sack of hammers) or Miers (zomg! She’s gonna legalize gay marriage abortions!) – I don’t see why the Senate would mindlessly green light the candidate. SCOTUS justices are a big deal. They should be treated as such. A bad SCOTUS pick will haunt the legal system for decades, invalidating perfectly good laws (like in the Ledbetter case or in the effective overturning of Brown v Board or a sudden concern for tort reform when Exxon’s neck was on the line or the myriad other bad calls the SCOTUS has made since the Regan Era began) on purely ideological and superfluous grounds.
The fact that we have a court loaded with right-wing ideologies just demonstrates how piss poor a job our left wing Senators have done in sifting the wheat from the chaff. I’m not going to begrudge a right wing Senator the tools his left wing counterpart failed to use time and again.
@Zifnab: Umm, wouldn’t Meiers count as unqualified and Bork count as decidedly outside the mainstream?
What are you arguing?
I have always thought that the reason was a little more nuanced then that and in fact forward looking. With hindsight in 2009 you can tell that by the time of Bork the Republicans had adopted the strategy (at least for some picks) of picking as SC nominees people that had proven themselves in Republican administrations as hatchet men. Rehnquist had already done so before Bork and Roberts and Alito are a continuation of the trend. By denying Bork they potential upset that strategy and removed the pressure on lawyers working in Republican administrations from not going along with whatever the president came up with, no matter how illegal or hairbrained (like Bork did).
I figure we will be hearing the name Frank Ricci a lot in the upcoming days.
Judge Sotomayor’s Appellate Opinions in Civil Cases
Mike Huckabee on Sotomayor
Rick Brookhiser on Sotomayor
And with women. Obama set them up with ’empathetic’ as the talking point. There’s no way the GOP gets through this without painting women as being too emotional to sit on the court.
I figure there’s enough bigotry along the Dobbs/Beck axis to take care of pissing off Latinos without any real assistance from anyone else.
And consider that Sessions is the one leading the charge, so I predict real fireworks here.
I’m sorry if it helped contribute to nastiness, but each time I think of it I thank our lucky stars that the lunatic Robert Bork wasn’t on the Supreme Court. This was a guy who argued that the freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights might only apply to elected House and Senate members while they are meeting and debating and legislating. Loon.
This is probably a more fruitful area of inquiry than concerns about a preexisting condition and lifespan, which strike me as prejudicial – in the same way a focus on gender is not the same thing as a focus on gender issues. But, hey, y’know: CNN. What are you gonna do.
But this is a thorny ethical issue as I try to form my own opinion – encountering, in your life, the need for care might be a good argument for understanding health care issues from a viewpoint that prioritizes prevention and treatment.
But as for matters relating to the health insurance industry – what demands are acceptable, in the hearings and the public forums, on her history of medical care? I’m curious if there’s a distinction here that matters. I assume she receives a high level of medical care and a high level of medical coverage. Is this an opportunity to ask her if she has always received care and coverage of this standard, or if her socioeconomic background reflects some privilege in this regard (exclusively or as part of her upbringing), what influence the diabetes will actually have on her approach to the industry?
It would be irresponsible for any president not to make the health of the nominee a major subject of concern, because presidents want decades of service from their nominees.”
IMHO, there really needs to be a term limit for SCOTUS justices (18 years) so we can dispense with the age-gaming, as well as end the practice of justices hanging on until a politically compatible president is elected.
Yep. Which is why I think she’ll get confirmed relatively easily. The Republicans know they can’t win here, and they have a lot more to lose than gain from making a huge stink about it. I’m not sure who is on the committee, but if they’re from states with a high percentage Hispanic population, and/or especially a growing one, this will be a key issue.
I’ve heard some grumblings that the Hispanic population hasn’t been well represented in the Obama administration. If this is true (the feeling, I mean), then her nomination may be more meaningful than it would be if there were no issues with Hispanic representation in the adminisatrion. Hence, more to lose for Republicans by creating a drama.
I expect there will be the usual opposition, but mostly it’ll be lukewarm, except for the certifiable wingnuts, and she’ll sail through. Unless something really weird comes out about her. Then all bets are off.
Actually, the real nasty confirmation battles started (not with Bork, which had been two years earlier) with John Tower’s failed nomination because of the not-so-whisper capaign that he was a drunk. From what I recall, the GOP senators were deeply offended that a sitting senator was not confirmed when the overwhelming course of conduct was to confirm one of their own. The bad blood from that debacle soon bled over into every other confirmation battle.
I think this stems from Republicans thinking that “Summa cum laude” is a dish with chicken and two kinds of beans.
@Joshua Norton: I believe the fact that one of our more esteemed Presidents could only manage middling grades at Yale points to an inherent system of preferential treatment for women and minorities, which are of course multipliers, and when combined allow unlimited power-ups and the ability to go into “overdrive” and save your other band members.
Rod Dreher’s reaction to Sotomayor
UnkyT – this is also the party that brought us Dubya….
That Huckabee piece was sh**ty!!!
The bastard couldn’t even be bothered to use the woman’s name. But that’s okay, she’s Hispanic, so of course her first name must be “MA-f*&cking-RIA”
Shawn in ShowMe
Co-sign. To limit the President to two terms, but to allow his appointee (charged with interpreting the Constitution no less) to serve until death never made sense to me.
@JK: ftw….that ought to help with independent women everywhere….the only thing that would make this more helpful is every GOP spokesperson could just go ahead and call her ‘gal’ in a deep southern drawl.
for my own part, i’m having a hard time caring about yet another round of predictable manufactured outrage.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
@Napoleon: Best case of intentional misuse of a word was PT Barnum and the word “egress” in his American Museum
“At one point, Barnum noticed that people were lingering too long at his exhibits. He posted signs indicating “This Way to the Egress”. Not knowing that “Egress” was another word for “Exit”, people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit…and ended up outside.”
@lamh31: ask and ye shall receive.
let’s see, i want one billion dollars. waiting…….
Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse
Turley is such a smug, condescending prick on MSNBC today.
I noticed that she did not mention a spouse or children at her introduction. I wonder how people will approach this interesting issue.
A friend of mine, also a lawyer, graduated from Cardinal Spellman as well, two years after Judge Sotomayor. He says his high school is going to be out of their minds happy about this.
And I was moved as hell by her speaking to her mother’s husband as lovingly as she did. It’s pretty goddamn cool. Congratulations to the Sotomayor family.
Ha hah ha. Nail, meet head.
@PaulW, you give Bush way too much credit. Bush was simply rewarding Meirs from their days back in Texas when shortly after arriving on the job as lottery commissioner she pointed out the unusually generous deal the democrat Barnes was getting in kickbacks from the state lottery (4%). She loyally went quiet about it and that was worth a lot to Bush.
Oh, yeah, Barnes was the guy who got Bushboy into the National Guard.
Somebody PLEASE tell me when, since January 20, 2009, it has mattered one freakin iota if the Republicans thought they could “win” or not. Tell me ONE TIME that this has changed their behavior. Nothing that they have done so far has given any of us any reason to think that they operate on the same planet, much less wavelengths, as rational people. These are NOT rational people.
However, the point is not really to win. The point is to extract their pound of flesh. The point is to wound to the point of delegitimizing Sotomayer (and by extension, Obama) before she ever puts on the robe, much less presides over a case. The point is to brand her, permanently, as a dumb, left-wing sociaIistic dirty fucking activist hippie who’s the second coming of a gay liberal Che Guevara and is gonna outlaw all guns and then force your teenage boys into samesex marriages and your twelve year old daughters into out of state no parental notification abortions.
That’s about the only part of the post that I disagreed with simply because “out of the mainstream” has been co-opted to mean “thinks differently than me.” It’s just another dog whistle term, ala “strict constructionist” and “activist judge”.
@El Cid, given Bork’s dubious history as Nixon’s kiss-up hatchet man I was appalled that the republicans considered him even remotely reasonable. What’s it take with these guys?
added: that’s what I get for reading the thread backwards to catch up. napoleon already covered this (if not others)
Yep. Which is why I think she’ll get confirmed relatively easily. The Republicans know they can’t win here, and they have a lot more to lose than gain from making a huge stink about it.
I don’t know which Republican party you’re referring to here, because the one I’ve been watching for the past couple of years could give a rat’s ass if they appeal to any constituency beyond a few embittered, white, shotgun-stroking, neo-confederate males. They’re going to go to the mat on this one, just to show their few remaining ditto-head members that they can take on Josef Adolf Pol Obama Pot, or whatever they’re calling the president these days, and if they lose the Hispanic vote for a generation, well them’s the breaks.
Buckle your seatbelts, kids. It’s going to be a rocky confirmation.
The Corner is calling Sotomayor “Obama’s Harriet Miers”.
John Cole wrote:
“A President deserves his picks.”
I’ll take issue with that. We the People and the Congress have a major interest in the outcome. It’s not just the “president’s pick.”
Just curious, but percentage of people—do you all imagine—think that Samuel Alito already broke that barrier?
@Svensker: given that Meirs was twice confirmed by the Senate for federal judgships the comparison seems particularly apt. oh wait.
What’s hilarious about the right’s comparison of Sotomayor with Harriet Miers is that the Miers nomination was derailed by conservatives who suspected she might not be batshit insane enough for their tastes. So instead of coming out and saying she’s too moderate, they ginned up the excuse that she just didn’t have the intellectual heft to be on the court. That may or may not have been fair to Miers, but liberal Democrats are generally going to be perfectly happy with the Sotomayor pick and really the only ones with anything to lose here politically are the Republicans, who now get to go on cable news for the next three months and talk about how stupid women and Hispanics are.
Obama just gave them a nice, taught length of rope and invited them to hang themselves. It looks like they’re going to oblige him without a second thought.
@Svensker: Weren’t they supportive of Harriet Miers?
You owe me a soda.
And a set of sinuses.
No, most of the Corner, along with other “intellectual” right wingers were distraught over the Miers pick. They saw her as an intellectual lightweight and seemed to think it was a real embarrassment (they were actually right on both things, such a shock).
Roberts and Alito both count as outside the mainstream, they’re both Federalist members, Roberts and Alito don’t believe that common people should be able to sue over damage to the “commons” (water, air, public usage) and Alito thinks it’s OK to shoot a fleeing, unarmed purse snatcher in the back of the head. I think both of these assholes (and Scalia and Thomas, too) are “out of the mainstream. Period.
I cannot comment on whether Ms Sotomayor meets the legal intellectual threshold referenced by certain snotty elitists such as Turler (he is just pissed that it will NEVER be him, I think).
I will say this from my first and only informal take of her personality and energy from the press conference: She is going to shake up all those bulls. She seems to radiate aliveness and I think people underestimate the impact of sexual energy on both genders. I know that there are a lot of ways to work “smart”. She may run Mr Scalia around by the end of his nose for all we know…
The dynamics of all relationships cannot always be predicted and I put my chips on her being a “player” on this court — all insults aside. (I hope that she ignores the bull)
Oh, you thought they actually cared that she was an intellectual lightweight?! Hahahahahaha… That’s hilarious! See: Bush, George W. Seriously, my sides hurt.
Nope, they didn’t really give a shit about that. That was just their public excuse. The problem with Mrs. Miers was that they were concerned that her wingularity quotient did not meet their standards. They wanted a tried and true one of their own – and preferably one that was male and white. They wouldn’t have cared if she was dumb as a box of rocks if they were sure she was “one of them”. That’s ALL that matters to these people.
@Svensker: My mistake. I often confuse them and Hugh Hewitt.
Disagree: I think, rather, that wingers and Repubs are more likely to try to redefine “empathetic” as meaning “bleeding-heart, America-blaming liberal wuss who will fall for violent ciminals’ phony sob-stories and turn them loose to steal/rape/kill again” . Or, if they feel like raising the intellectual bar just a tad: “judicial activist“.
A feature, not a bug….
It may depend on what you mean by “nasty.” While in SCOTUS nominations, like in all things, Republican lies, hypocrisy and inflammatory rhetoric have never been matced in American history, at least since the 19th century, there have been plenty of contentious nominations prior to Roe. Not quite a century ago, the fight over Wilson’s nomination of Brandeis probably rivalled the nastiness you can expect over Sotomayor (and many of the arguments were were pretty the same that you will hear in the coming months).
Within my living memory, Republicans and Dixiecrats united to successfully filibuster LBJ’s nomination of Justice Abe Fortas for Chief Justice in 1968, putting the lie to Rethug claims that judicial nominations were never historically filibustered. Although the claimed reason was various corruption issues and Fortas’ close personal and political relationship with Johnson, which continued while Fortas served on the Court, the real motive was Fortas’ liberalism and the hope that the Repblicans would win the ’68 election and make the pick themselves.
The next year, a coaltion of liberal Democrats and Republicans (yes, Virginia, they did exist back then) defeated Nixon’s nomination of appellate judge Clement Haynesworth to be Justice in an up or down vote. (This likely occurred for a variety of largely political reasons; Haynesworth was considered a decent judge and continued to serve with distinction for an additional twenty years on the Fourth Circuit.) In rumored pique at the Senate’s rejection of a decent nomination, and believing they would not reject two nominations in a row, Nixon then nominated Harrold Carswell, a pretty much avowed racist and mediocre judge (prompting the famous remark by Senator Hruska that the medicore deserved represnetation too). After Carswell was rejected by a similar coalition in an up or down vote, Nixon, somewhat ironically, nominated Harry Blackmun, who was easily confirmed.
The inevitable GOP reaction will be: Release the hounds!
It’s interesting that the yahoo news piece on the nominee notes that “Her nomination to the appeals court was delayed 15 months, reportedly because of concerns by Republicans that she might someday be considered for the Supreme Court.”
The GOP has a long term strategy to try to make sure that only conservative judges reach the court, and they don’t let defeat swerve them from their strategic aims.
Also, while some liberals obsess over demographic groups and communities, this is not part of the conservative sentiment, and for some good reasons. When Dubya selected Harriet Miers, the concern was whether she was sufficiently conservative (if you were a wingnut) or had a brain (moderate conservatives). Nobody on the Republican side much cared whether she would appeal to women voters.
And Hispanics (or Latinos) are not a monolith. The nominee is of Puerto Rican descent. Some Mexican Americans may feel that they are still “not represented,” if that kind of thing is important.
So far, I like what I am finding out about her. I admire the legal thinking and the empathy in one of her dissents (courtesy Wiki):
I look forward to GOP fail on this one.
Grumpy Code Monkey
EMPATHIC, dammit! “Empathetic” just sounds … pathetic.
I’m kind of with John; the Senate should not reject a SCOTUS nominee based on their politics or their legal philosophy. The only reasons a nominee should be rejected are a) they’re clearly unqualified (Meiers), or b) their nomination is clearly a political favor or reward for dirty deeds done in the past (Bork).
I would like to see as wide a range as possible of legal philosophies represented on the Court. I don’t want an identifiably liberal or conservative Court.
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
I agree that this should be the ideal. But the GOP have already drawn a line in the sand on this one. They seem to believe that only nominees that satisfy their vision should be nominated.
However, I respect Obama’s emphasis on “empathy,” which has been misunderstood. At one point, Thurgood Marshall was the only justice on the court who had ever previously defended a man who had been accused of murder. He and other justices made the point that sometimes the Court is all that stands between a person pleading his case and oblivion. The law is not just a technical exercise, or a history lesson.
Of course, the Constitution itself is silent on what makes a court nominee “qualified.” And William Brennan was appointed to the Court in part because of political considerations:
But I take your point that currently, political considerations have become narrowly partisan, and wingnut-oriented.
I for one am outraged that a President would pick such an obvious mediocrity for an important federal judicial position, probably out of some sort of misguided sense of affirmative action “fairness.”
…But since George H.W. Bush did it anyway, I guess it’s okay for President Obama to consider her for a promotion.
You can go about this in a number of ways. You can say that a president should have his picks, as long as the person is within some acceptable bound of legal thinking. Or you can claim that on some issues, ideology overrides any sort of qualification, which seems to be what a lot of people are warming up to. Elections do have consequences, after all. Both are, I think, legitimate ways of looking at the confirmation process, but you can’t pretend that it’s your way, all the time, which is exactly what the Republicans do. Well, you can, but nobody serious should act like that.
I was struck by how quickly he criticized her, but then they had some law professor from Yale on who seemed to say that she was a fine legal thinker. This made me think, among other things, that there’s still no definitive word on her and that I am too quick to react.
This will be last post on this particular thread, or so I hope, but suffice it to say that if the Republicans vote against her almost uniformly, they don’t necessarily have to kill themselves in the process. Whatever grounds they use to reject her, they can use some standard reasons and be done with it. I doubt they will suffer any long term consequences, rightly or wrongly, if they vote against her because of abortion or something like that.
However, I doubt they will be restrained. I expect them to really unload on her, even if it’s in a subtle way at first. As someone said above, Obama gave them a lot of rope, and they will almost certainly hang themselves with it. And if they act even remotely like I expect them to, they will do immense damage to their political opportunities for a long time to come. (This is why, by the way, if Obama had picked Kathleen Sullivan or Pamela Karlan, both lesbians, I would have expected them to be confirmed.)
Who needs smart? They think the job is just some sort of mechanical “calling balls and strikes” process anyway.
“What do I think about all this? Pretty much what I thought when Roberts and Alito were confirmed. A president deserves his picks, and unless they are incompetent or decidedly out of the mainstream or there is some exceptional reason to keep them off the bench, they should be confirmed.”
That would make so much sense if Bush had actually won the job the first time. But he didn’t.
I have one response to the GOP’s “no activist judges” and “strict constructionist” rallying cries: Bush v. Gore.
Good for Obama. Now, hunker down and wait. I am of the opinion that the GOP doesn’t give a shit as to what is and isn’t prudent for them to do. They will filibuster, me thinks.
I think it’s funny how quickly women are called lightweights when it comes to intellect. Few men (outside of Dan Quayle) are labeled thusly (in politics, I mean). As for Alito and Scalia or whomever the right are touting as intellectual heavyweights–prove it. They seem like lightweights to me (see, I can do it, too).
Boo Boo Kitty
I have to agree with Brantl. Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas are not in the mainstream, they are extremists.
The only reason republicans get away with this is because most people have no idea of what judges do or how the law works. So they just scream activist judge, and people who don’t know any better buy into it.
Seriously, we would need Noam Chomsky to find someone on the left as extreme as Alito.
Call a contractor, it’s time to move the Overton window again.
Great post, Mr. Cole.
FWIW the foam finger I use when reponding to Republic Party weapons-grade stupidity has a rubber glove on it and an unpleasant smell… Gets a rise out of ’em every time.
Of course someone in their 30s can drop dead tomorrow. The question is, what’s likely, not what’s certain.
Apparently she’s a Type I diabetic. Unfortunately, that means there’s a high likelihood she’ll have a relatively short lifespan.
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
That might be your opinion, but I don’t think that’s what the Constitution says.
Given that presidents (especially Republican ones) make picks based on ideology, there’s no reason the Senate cannot decide whether to give its Constitutionally mandated consent on the same basis.
There’s no good reason for thinking that. IMHO if the Court had been balanced as you propose, it’s likely there’d be no Brown.
Not to mention “wide range” is pretty vacuous, because it says nothing about the actual distribution. Though I’d be happy with 8 liberals plus one nutjob right-winger.
My impression is that Thomas was pretty ludicrous.
I listened and I took his remark to mean, as a liberal, he was hoping for someone like Wood because he thought she could actually sway the righties. I don’t think he’s trying to demean her intellect at all but he sure worded it poorly! He doesn’t know if she can change the minds of the conserv. as we, the liberals, had hoped. Ok, That’s my take……..but listen to it and see what you think :o)