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.