This is what punditry looks like on autopilot:
In the case of the Sotomayor appointment, while she’s likely to coast through the Senate given the Democrats’ sheer numbers, the American public needs to understand why this is such a radical pick. The Obama/Sotomayor idea that judges, instead of making impartial rulings based on the law and the Constitution, should base their decisions (at least in part) on their own experiences and ethnic background, is outrageous. It is perfectly appropriate for Republicans and conservatives to make this point, and there’s no reason why they can’t do so in a respectful manner. In short, the upcoming Sotomayor fight isn’t really a fight about whether she should be confirmed — Republicans pretty much lost that one last November — it’s a fight about whether Obama gets to define Sotomayor as a “moderate.”
Noticeably absent from this critique, of course, is any evidence that Sotomayor has ever made any ruling that was based on something other than the law. Not one case. In order for Republicans and conservatives to “make that point,” they would in fact have to have one.
But they don’t. They just have a word salad they barf up every time they think it is appropriate- “reverse racist!” “activist judge!” “legislate from the bench!” “not a strict constructionist.” And that is pretty much what we can expect the next couple of months.
Sonia Sotamayor has more judicial experience than any other person nominated to the Supreme Court in decades. There are literally hundreds of rulings and opinions of hers out there. Surely they could come up with some examples of her “basing her decisions on her ethnic background.” Surely there must be a paper trail. Surely Mr. Klein can come up with some evidence for his smears and assertions.
We’ll be waiting.
Run it by Oliver Willis. I ran across this this morning when the world was asleep and I was working.
If we had anything resembling a normal discourse in our media, whackjobs on the TeeVee would be forced to define what “legislate from the bench” and “activist judge” is supposed to mean.
But we don’t. So those scare words continue to function as Republican shorthand. Lee Atwater would be proud.
They’ve forgotten how to oppose things (or people) on their merits. It’s all name-calling and temper tantrums. We saw that during the campaign, during the first few months of this administration, and it’s pretty evident now.
The entire conservative establishment has become the cranky kindergarten class of American politics. Can someone *please* give them some graham crackers and their blankey so they can have a nice little nap?
God, I wish I were in the Senate.
I’d be sure to get her position on Heliocentrism. I think that if the American people are going to have their highest court staffed with Copernican extremists, there should be a record of it.
The perfect post. Spot on.
My favorite line is this one:
She will coast because she is eminently qualified, well vetted, she’s an articulate spokesperson for her record and her views, her views are pretty mainstream, and there is no real substantive reason to oppose her. The Ricci case, fail. Decided on the law, whether you agree with the decision or not. “We make policy” remark, fail, because the statement was taken out of context, was accurate, and is pretty much everyday knowledge among people who understand the court system. “Latina woman” remark, fail, because again, taken out of context, and in full context, was a reasonable and admirable statement on her part.
That’s about all they got. Which is to say, nothing. Zero.
Like it or not, assholes, she is your next justice. And expect around two more of the same caliber before Obama’s term is over.
So it’s time to say this, about that: We won. Get over it.
They’ll find something. For now, at least, there’s just no hurry. The ‘Pubs don’t want to play their trumps this far out in front of a nomination or the “shocking revelations” will lose all their steam. So all they can do is keep plugging away insisting that Sotomayor is a not-moderate.
If it looks like they’re on autopilot, its just because they’ve got a long way to go and they don’t plan to change direction.
I’m starting to wonder if she might be able to deliver a good, consistent STFU to Scalia based on actual law instead of Scaly’s petty nonsense and fanboy Thomas.
OOH! OOH! Intelligent Design! We need to know if the nominee supports the teaching of creationism in schools.
On a somewhat related note, I was unfortunately exposed to part of The View Yesterday, and my main thought when Elisabeth was babbling on on this subject was “Elisabeth, Empathy is what people WON’T be feeling for you when Whoopy reaches across the table and strangles you on live TV”
That will be interesting. Sotomayor doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I’d love to watch someone take Scalia down a peg or two.
Calling out to any BJers who were fans of the original Twilight Zone show. I think I’ve figured out the GOP agenda… remember the episode where the right wing douche bag is basically casting aspersions on all the different groups; blacks, jewish people, etc.? He gets worked up into a Limbaugh like rage and then ends up on a train to a Nazi death camp… well The current GOP strategy is basically like that. They piss off nearly everyone outside their target group vise of doughy, aging white guys (and brain dead nodding bimbettes) and pretty soon the entire political party is en route to extinction. Whoa. I need a joint to contemplate this, that or a long nap.
Still, ‘autopilot’ is a step above ‘alternate space-time continuum’. I guess the question is when will the winger arguments against Sotomayor cross the line into that very special socially-enforced reality we all recognize by now– where there’s no point in trying to argue, because… well… you’re just not one of them.
This just goes to show you how shortsighted the R’s were in the war against cloning. Had medical science been able to clone the clown Scalia or the dumb clown Thomas, Obama would have had an acceptable nominee.
should base their decisions (at least in part)
He’s a weasel.
He’s too lazy to read the 150 opinions she drafted, and even if he does, and doesn’t find the phrase he needs, he’ll claim she based a decision “in part” on considerations other than the law.
He inserted the weasel phrase for just such a possibility.
I’m feeling a little cheated. I think Sotomayor could clean their collective clock given an adversarial forum. She won’t get a chance to do that, though, because she’s going to a confirmation hearing, and the savvy tactic is to say as little as possible at a confirmation hearing, and she’ll do that.
I would really like to listen to her responses to this sloppy, half-assed attack, in a different forum. I would enjoy the hell out of that. Oh, well.
This thing we have here is one of the “Proper Gander” things, isn’t it?
Prayer in schools, too. The Supreme Court should not be allowed to force our kids to spend their entire schoolday without the consolation of a Bible reading from the teacher.
If the Republicans are going to go down on this one, I think they should go down swinging. And foaming at the mouth. And speaking in tongues.
My recollection is that women did not fall for the Palin selection because they used their judgment (yes, Pat Buchanan, women have that capacity) to assess her lack of real credentials and the absence of any gravitas. People may sometimes be sheep, but they are not blind (all the time).
There is no way that non-white Americans are going to miss what is really going on here. They have experienced this very thing in their own lives: where people presume the absence of competence based on the color of their skin or that accent in their voice.
Plus, I do not think you can underestimate the pride in the Latino community that this woman has been nominated. One of “us” has made it. White America might recall that very sentiment on January 20 when Obama was sworn in. It was more than the non-violent transfer of power in the world’s most powerful nation (read: most nuclear weapons). It was a transformational moment when each black American could see him or herself in the President of the United States in more than the generic “we are all human” kind of way.
Obama’s ascendency was the culmination of the hard work of millions of black and white Americans to make sure everyone understood that skin color should not be an impediment to achievement, it should not be a disqualifier for the highest offices in the land, it should not be the root of an individual’s frustrations in not reaching his or her dreams. Obama was emblematic of something deeply profound to the people who shared a trait that made them all chattel to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Similarly, Ms. Sotamayor is emblematic of a proud latina woman who has managed to achieve the highest possible position in the US legal system. She will be viewed as a hero. To denigrate her in so obvious a way is more than a disservice to political discourse, it is a disservice to the very ideals of a nation that (for most) wants to measure people by the content of their character.
These GOP attack dogs are just Bull Connor in suits.
Eff em all.
Personally, I’m waiting for what I now call “The Chu Moment” to happen during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. That’s the moment when the person being questioned by a senator or representative suddenly realizes that the questioner is a total idiot who doesn’t even know basic facts behind the questions s/he is asking.
Named after that moment where Sec. Chu realized that Rep. Barton was a total fucking idiot but had to be humored anyway.
Being that Sotomayor is a baseball fan, I really hope she’ll shoot down that stupid umpire analogy if any Republican senators use it to make themselves look clever.
“… a word salad that they barf up…”
Hold the dijon vinaigrette, please.
Didn’t somebody say something the other day about Sotomayor walking away with Scalia’s balls in her purse? I LOL’d.
Yes, and someone else quipped she’d have a hard time getting them out of Alito’s mouth.
Bill E Pilgrim
There’s no way that post was written by a human being. They’ve clearly perfected pure, emotionless, bloodless AI. Which just goes to show you that even a machine can have its head up its, er, port.
Yes, god forbid a justice should actually be able to recognize those she passes judgment on as other humans, similar to herself.
It never ceases to amaze me that the party of torture is also the party of strict adherence to the letter of the law.
Thanks a lot Little Dreamer, I need to run and buy brain bleach to get rid of that nice little picture you drew for us.
I would like to introduce some of these douchebags to the concept of equity. Where the court is given wide discretion to fashion a remedy that promotes justice. Happens all the time in litigation, hell, two-thirds of my work is equitable in nature.
Glenzilla gives us a perfect example today of a time when Sotomayor did the exact opposite of judging on the basis of empathy or sympathy for one of the parties. A case he himself was involved in.
@DanSmoot’sGhost: Yeah, we did win. It feels good for a change, and watching what’s left of the opposite marriage party fight daily over whether they should utilize self-immolation, self-cannibalism or self-genital mutilation as the means for their demise as a political party makes the victory much sweeter.
Without realizing it, they’ve turned their most effective political tool: fear, on themselves and are chasing out, one by one, the last of the rational, sensible members of their ranks. Not that they had an abundance to begin with…
They danced with the Devils.
The Birchers, the racists, the radical Christianists, the Rush Limbaugh fans who are so unthinking about their fealty Rush could say, “Cut your throats!” and they would ask, “How deep?”
They wanted to Win.
I am indebted to Rick Perlstein (Nixonland, Before the Storm) and Dan T. Carter (The Politics of Rage,) all of which I’ve read in the last six months.
The people around Nixon, Goldwater, and Wallace all knew their campaign was bringing out the whackos. But those lovely numbers! The fundraising! The unthinking troops!
What could possibly go wrong?
And it was kept somewhat in check, until Karl Rove dug deeply into the Fundy pit; and suddenly our government was questioning centuries old scientific doctrine and hiring based on When Last Baptized and screeching voices one used to only hear on late night talk radio came pouring across the ether like a Digital Cthulhu and set up residence on Meet the Press.
And an awful lot of people got a glimpse of my Fundy-soaked small town childhood… and ran away screaming.
Because before I go through that again, I will set out for Europe on a rubber raft.
That’s not entirely certain. So far all of the attacks on Judge Sotamayor have been personal and ill-founded. But as Mr. Cole stated, she has a vast history of rulings. It may be that something will rear its head from those or some other writing or hers that either party in the Senate will detest. It doesn’t seem likely as Obama’s administration has been doing a remarkably thorough job of vetting people, but they have had to drop nominations before. The sheer volume of information that they want from people has meant that they haven’t always found the landmine before the person’s name had been put forward.
Afterall, Bork got all the way to the Senate Judiciary Committee before it became evident that he was (judicially) insane.
Funny you should use that phrase. In an NPR interview, Sotomayor’s classmate Stephen Carter said that she does “suffer fools” fairly patiently and then zeroes in on the issues without getting personal.
not entirely on autopilot. you can tell someone is manning the shop over there because comments have apparently been disabled.
What, no snake-handling?!
@David Hunt: there is nothing there. all you would have to look for is a dissent in which she took an outrageous position. A law clerk could run that search and review the cases in an afternoon. there is nothing bad there. There are no Liberal appellate court judges young enough to be nominated. No, so long as Obama selects Circuit Court judges with no teaching backgrounds and no significant publications, then nothing bad will happen.
Law professors will get you into trouble based on their group affiliations, their lectures, and their publications for which the raison d’etre is to be provocative. (See Bork)
This is easy pickings for the master of the Obama Fu.
No. That would be too homoerotic. Save that show for the airport restrooms.
I think I saw this quote on this blog in reference to some infighting on the right “Great, they are bayoneting their own survivors”.
This exactly. I have no idea in living hell what these people are talking about, because they’re not backing up anything they’re saying. I mean, come on guys, is it too fucking much to ask for one lousy goddamned example? Just one?? Come on, I’ll believe you if you can show me. Can’t you even look like you’re making an effort?
::sigh:: Yes, those are rhetorical questions. Yes, I already know the answers.
I wonder if anyone has posted this quote from Samuel Alito, from his own confirmation hearings:
Bad Horse's Filly
Geez, I just posted this on the It Never Ends thread and pop over here and it’s still appropriate:
Once again Republicans prove that the truth and facts mean nothing.
OT: Did anyone see Wanda Sykes last night on Leno? She killed. I’m still laughing at her impression of what they really mean when they say, ‘when will we see the real Michelle?’
I’ll see if I can find a link.
The only thing these people have ever had is fear. They’ve driven up the fear factor dial so high that they now even suspect their own. ;)
The Republicans that are calling Sotomayer a racist, bigot, reverse racist, affirmative action hire, etc., say that about ANY successful minority. Yet they have no problem shoveling wingnut welfare to guys like Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, George W. Bush, etc., guys that owe everything to the leg up their parents gave them. Some clubby system where all the successful white people give jobs to their sons and friends is okay.
The truth is, there was more extreme stuff in Roberts’ and Alito’s history, like being members of the Federalist Society – running with the Powerline crowd is a dealbreaker, ladies. Hell I think even Roberts tried to hide that shit because why not? Its fucking embarrasing and proof of raw wingnuttiness. But hey, the liberal media let it go because of Roberts’ sterling credentials – credentials which Sotomayer is not short of, might I add.
The concept of the purely impartial judge is propaganda when raised by the right, and — sorry to say this — delusion when raised by the left. All but the most trivial judicial decisions are based, in part, on the judge’s beliefs. Any substantial case can be decided in a variety of ways, and the each decision justified on a variety of facts and legal theories.
Ed in NJ
Based on Gallup polling, this is looking like a real loser of a battle for the Republicans. Even Republicans have a slightly positive view of the choice.
Positive Initial Reaction to Sotomayor Nomination
Most interesting is the ranking of reasons why Obama picked her. In order:
@Tonal Crow: Agreed, and further, to the extent that judges decide cases by analogy (and they do), judges must make decisions as which similarities and dissimilarities in individual cases matter most, and then which amalgam of similarities and dissimilarities among the cases matter most. All of that requires a complex moral and anethetic calculus that almost always draws on the particular traits of the judge deciding the case, where “traits” should be understood to include personality, religion, socio-economic status. Many times you do not see distinctions from judge to judge because judges can be a homogenous culture, though perhaps less so, in the more metropolitan areas.
This attack on empathy is really beyond stupid. Can someone please just play for these idiots Atticus Finch’s argument to the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird (with a little extra thrown in about being able to put oneself in another’s shoes) and then see if they continue to not understand the concept.
Awesome find Zuzu’s Petals, and I absolutely loved this comment I found over there:
Yeah, and if those starburst inducing auditory aids for their facts and numbers challenged base are the only thing they bring to the plate all the way through the confirmation hearings, I know at least one little Latin bundle of goodness that will be pissed. You don’t want to see her pissed off. And she wouldn’t be alone among those who have names some “real Americans” think should be anglicized for their convenience.
As opposed to the Opus Dei court members who are obligated to follow the Pope’s instructions?
Their ineffectual bleating is endless.
A Justice Sotomayor is going to be a presence on the Supreme Court. A strong, smart Latina woman who’s been through a divorce and knows the Law. Whichever way she leans on a particular issue, I doubt she’ll suffer being browbeaten by Scalia, Thomas or especially Roberts.
When in the minority, I’ll bet her her dissenting opinions will be made with some very interesting and sharp points. Better start wearing a cup under those robes, Tony…
Alito also mentioned that that he hears a lot of immigration cases, and so inevitably reflects on his own family.
Imagine if Sotomayor said that. Just imagine.
There are two different standards being applied here. One for men like Roberts and Alito, and one for Sotomayor, and it isn’t just right wing activists. The media coverage is markedly different, and no one is remarking on that. Media were respectful,. serious and almost scholarly with Roberts and Alito. They’re covering Sotomayor like she’s a candidate on American Idol.
I was naive. I truly thought it had gotten better. It hasn’t. It may be worse than it was with Ginsburg.
@eric: Yes. For just one example, each judge tends to prefer a particular set of interpretive techniques, such as textualism, originalism, preservation of pragmatic balance, etc. The outcome of a case easily can hinge upon which of these technique(s) a judge chooses to apply. A formalistic reading of a constitutional text (“textualism”) might support outcome A, while a searching inquiry into its framers’ intent (“originalism”) might uncover history that argues for outcome B. And a focus on preserving the original relative balance between government powers and individual rights might imply outcome C. But which techniques a judge tends to use is not dictated by “the law”, but by her own origins, experiences, and personal preferences.
@Tonal Crow: Yes, and, as it relates to the Constitution, there is no textual guidance as to the required interpretative approach.
Thus, what you really get are “political” decisions at the deeper level when the Justice decides which interpretive schema to apply. (Here, politics should be understood in the broader sense shared by Plato and Aristotle that the the polis depends on human nature.
Look at Scalia: here is where his particular form of Catholocism is informative. If you believe that humans need strict and unwavering guidance to act morally, then you want a stable text. So, Scalia’s choice of historic originalism is a means of providing objective standards to create an unchanging Constitution.
By contrast, if you believe that humans have a greater capacity to make rational moral judgments, you are more likely to believe in the concept of moral “progress” and would not want a consitutional text with permanent meaning.
The key here is that all of these judgments are supra-constutional and not prohibited by the text, and are, indeed, demanded by the very process of judging.
Scalia’s gripe about Justices doing politics ignores the mroe fundamental level at which Justice’s make decisions about human nature, rationality, and moral capacity.
Andrea Mitchell is interviewing lawyers from SCOTUS blog on Sotomayor, so that’s progress. Better than Pat Buchanan, or that unidentified actvist-person who was rattling on and on yesterday.
They just explained the difference between a trial court and an appellate court. This may take a little while. But, we’re moving in the right direction.
They know she judges with empathy in their heart. They feel it.
It’s pathetic, really. (pun intended)
Has anyone else suggested that the best thing the Democrats could do is to have the first Democratic Senator on the Judiciary committee cede his questioning time and simply read into the record all the approving right wing senatorial quotes about Alito and Thomas on “empathy” and “immigrant heritage” and etc… at the very outset of the confirmation hearings. It would hamstring the right wing at the very outset.
But really, what is “law” but the codified arbitrary whims of the ruling class of a particular epoch.
@Agi: they are not “arbitrary” at all. They are precisely calculated to perpetuate the ruling class. They may lack universality, but they are not arbitrary.
I notice Greenwald also included a link to the video. Like him, I think it should be posted on the front page of every website arguing over Sotomayor’s impartiality.
Hear, hear! While you’re at it, remind these idiots that the United States is a common law system, which means that it is part of the job of judges to make law. Tell them that if they don’t like it, they can move to France, where the system operates the way they seem to want the American system to operate and judges don’t make law.
@Ed in NJ:
I guess pointing out that she has more experience than any nominee in the past 100 years is working.
@JasonF: Not only that, but:
(emphasis added for the wingnuts who seem determined to write these “inkblots” out of the Constitution).
Man do I hate how difficult it is to add line breaks inside blockquotes. I vote this site’s software the worst-ever.
It’s been pointed out before, but “reverse racist” doesn’t make a lot of sense. A Hispanic person bigoted against whites or blacks or Asians is called….racist. A reverse racist is, I don’t know, a Hispanic who thinks non-Hispanics are better?
Is there anyone outside of the most ideological conservative portion of the population who takes any of this seriously? Is there anyone who genuinely thinks the Republicans withheld judgement, carefully looked through Sotomayer’s record, and were genuinely shocked at what a liberal record she had? Is there anyone who thinks they wouldn’t have done this with any judge Obama might reasonably be expected to pick? It’s so transparent, and it seems to me it must be turning off anyone who’s not already in the far right.
Wile E. Quixote
Yeah, that would have been me. You know I was thinking about it though and I figured out how she could do it (Don’t ask me why I think about Scalia teabagging on Alito. I don’t even know why, and that’s after years of therapy.). See, there has to be a transition every once in a while where Scalia takes his limp, floppy nutsack out of Alito’s drooling mouth and pops it into Clarence Thomas’s mouth so that Alito can sign a concurring opinion or take communion or whatever. I think if she went for it at the moment of transition, where Scalia’s saliva dripping scrotum had been detached from Alito’s sucker-like maw and was about to be popped into Clarence Thomas’s sucker-like maw. But she’d have to act fast, because once Scalia’s scrotum is in Clarence Thomas’s mouth there’s no way it’s going to come out short of using a tazer, a cutting torch and lots and lots and lots of lube.
Wile E. Quixote
A pope who was a member of the Hitler Youth. And please, don’t give me any of that shit about how he wasn’t really that enthusiastic a member, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s what all of the fucking Germans and Austrians said after World War II. Ja, ich war ein Naziparteigenosse. Aber ich war nicht ein enthusiastisch Naziparteigenosse. my ass.
I think that we should start hammering on the Opus Dei thing. Opus Dei are a bunch of creeps and we shouldn’t hesitate to point out that FBI traitor Robert Hanssen was also a member in good standing of Opus Dei. Let’s lift up the rock and watch these bastards scuttle for cover.
Here’s a video that will go with the title of this thread quite well.
Well, duh. They already sent out the list of talking points to the entire world:
They don’t give a fuck. When a show books a Republican, they fully expect them to regurgitate line for line off that memo. It would be nice for the “liberal” commentators, or hosts, or anyone really to point this out – i.e., “have you no original thoughts, sir?” – but then it’d also be nice to have a threesome with my second and third ex-girlfriends.
I can’t remember where I read this, but I once saw the law defined as society’s attempt to quantify morality. I’ve always liked that particular definition.
@Wile E. Quixote:
Stop that, you bad, bad man.
Surely you’re joking.
I’m moderately pleased with the Sotamayor pick, but I was personally hoping for Diane Wood. I wanted someone who was used to dealing with the more conservative judges (Easterbrook and Posner in Wood’s case), and who may have a little more of an academic background.
That being said, I think Obama is picking a fight with this one, and I couldn’t be happier about that…
Excuse me, but if “empathy” in rendering judgment is such a radically new idea, why did the medieval English insist on a jury of the defendant’s “PEERS” to to weigh guilt or innocence?
Peak wingnut is a farce. (linked via GOS)
Oh that silly old thing? That’s just an outdated concept of satanic evil that was forced on the subjects of the realm, it should be opposed and never acknowledged to have existed because SHUT UP, that’s why!
They just can’t let go of their default position that, all things being equal, the job should go to the white male.
And because surely, surely there must be a white male out there somewhere who is equally qualified as Sotomayor, then it’s just not right that the latino bitch gets the job that he’s qualified for.
The Tim Channel
On the road to nowhere. Are we there yet?
A pope who was a member of the Hitler Youth. And please, don’t give me any of that shit about how he wasn’t really that enthusiastic a member, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s what all of the fucking Germans and Austrians said after World War II.
Some context here: he was 14 years old, and during WWII all German teenage boys were automatically enrolled in the Hitler Youth.
And please, don’t give me any of that shit about how you didn’t really support George W. Bush and the attack on Iraq, and aren’t really that enthusiastic a member of the Republican Party, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s what all of the fucking Americans said after 2005.
but then it’d also be nice to have a threesome with my second and third ex-girlfriends.
Yes, it seems like it’d be nice, but let me warn you about unintended blowback (perhaps a poor choice of words). Some worlds should not collide.
in order to browbeat anyone thomas would first have to learn to actually, you know, talk.
On a road to nowhere, indeed. Love the Talking Heads – David Byrne was/is endlessly entertaining.
Wile E. Quixote
Yeah, and then he served in the German Army, but it’s OK because as soon as things got tough for the Germans he deserted. Give me a break, it’s not as if he was in the White Rose, or if he was even like Konrad Adenauer. It’s bitterly and brutally ironic that a man who claims to be the moral leader of millions spent his formative years acquiescing to one of the greatest evils humanity has ever known and did nothing more than go along to get along.