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May 27, 2009


I wonder if he was similarly discomfited when Clarence Thomas or Ruth Bader Ginsburg (before his time in the Senate, i know) were nominated.

rone, AFAIK all the people discomfited by
Clarence Thomas were liberals. Are they racists?

Seriously, I deplore the effort to drag race in where it doesn't belong. At least President Bush paid lip service to the idea that Thomas was the most qualified candidate and that he would judge according to law and Constitution, rather then represent some ethnic group.

Sadly, both Obama and Sotomayor herself have presented her as representing poor Hispanics. That represents a quantum change in the heritage of the Court, IMHO.

Gee, I think Sotomayor's achievements speak for themselves. Do you really think they've been overlooked or require extensive amplification?

* BA, summa cum laude, Princeton 1974
* J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979 (where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal)
* Assistant District Attorney under New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau starting in 1979
* In 1984 entered private practice, making partner at the boutique commercial litigation firm of Pavia & Harcourt, where she specialized in intellectual property litigation
* 1987, Governor of New York Mario Cuomo appointed Sotomayor to the board of the State of New York Mortgage Agency
* appointed in 1988 as one of the founding members of the New York City Campaign Finance Board, where she served for four years
* 1992, became a U.S. District Court Judge
* 1998, became a Court of Appeals Judge
* 1998 to 2007, Adjunct Professor at New York University School of Law
* 1999 to present, lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School

I'm also a bit unsure why she shouldn't be proud to represent Hispanics?

Is it because she's a woman?

Last of all, why should it be held against her that only four Supreme Court justices (out of 110) have not been white males?

It seems any change would represent a "quantum change".

Howard, first of all, your last point is a straw man,. Nobody is holding it against her that she is not a white male. On the contrary, her status as a female Hispanic makes it harder to attack her, even though the attacks are based on her judicial philosophy.

Second, she's clearly a smart, successful lawyer. Her record isn't as impressive as Roberts' and is perhaps a tad less impressive than Alito's, but it's certainly more than impressive enough. She's unquestionably qualified.

Third, if she had merely said she was proud of her Hispanic heritage, nobody would hold it against her. (Although if Roberts had said he was proud of his WASP heritage that would be a different story.)

The trouble is that Obama has said he wanted to appoint someone who had "empathy" and who'd temper the court's decisions with a concern for the downtrodden, the powerless and the voiceless. In other words, he implied Sotomayor might decide a case differently, depending on the nature of the parties. Sotomayer has made similar comments, indicating that she might favor Hispanics in her decisions. This is a problem, not so much that Hispanics or poor people might be favored, but that the rule of law appears not to be her sole approach to deciding cases. Worse, she and Obama aren't even paying lip service to the impartial justice system would hold as an ideal.

AFAIK all the people discomfited by Clarence Thomas were liberals. Are they racists?

Opposition to Thomas was pretty solidly grounded in the fact that he was a conservative Republican who held views that were the antithesis of the man he was replacing. Liberals opposed that, so they opposed Thomas (just as they had opposed Bork).The NAACP opposed him for the same reason.

Those are perfectly legitimate reasons to oppose a justice and conservatives likewise oppose Sotomayor because she will rule contrary to their desires. They would undoubtedly have embraced her and celebrated her as both a woman and a Latina if she had been a stalwart conservative member of the Federalist Society (just as they embraced Palin and Gonzales).

What I don't understand is why conservatives waste time pretending that they don't make these decisions based on ideology or claim that there is something wrong in doing so. Everyone knows it's a charade.

Standing against her because she would oppose them on civil rights, consumer rights, on abortion, and on labor issues would not be seen as racist.

Pretending to oppose her because she doesn't use the "natural English" pronunciation of her name, or because she likes Puerto Rican food; ridiculing her as an affirmative action hire who only got where she is today through years of preferential treatment; writing columns lamenting the lack of opportunity for white males on the court; and fretting over the Court's "heritage" as Brendan points out above - Those are the things that get you tagged as a racist, because they are fundamentally offensive arguments against her nomination.

Republicans would serve themselves better by simply being honest about their opposition to her nomination.

Jinchi, if Republicans reflexively oppose liberal justices, how was it that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a decidedly liberal record, was confirmed in 1993 by a vote of 96-3, and that Stephen Breyer was confirmed in 1994 by a vote of 87-9? These confirmations were not very long after the Clarence Thomas vote that so polarized the Senate. Given the evidence of the confirmation votes of the last five justices to be seated on the Court, it certainly appears that Republicans have been far more willing than Democrats to support a nomination by a President of the opposite party, even though they may have disagreed with the nominee's ideology.

Neither Breyer nor Ginsburg had a "decidedly liberal" record. Both were nominated specifically because they were seen as moderate Democrats. Ginsburg was seen as a swing vote on the appeals court who had a record of voting often with Ken Starr and had criticized the decision in Roe v. Wade.

Both were Orrin Hatch approved, compromise picks, chosen after Republicans openly threatened to block more liberal picks like Cuomo and Babbitt.

And looking beyond the (statistically sparse) record of Supreme Court picks to overall court nominations, Bill Clinton had a much harder time getting nominees approved (or even voted on) than George Bush did.

"Jinchi" is my hero today.

Responding to the ill informed and hyper partisan right wingers "Rob" and "David" is mind-numbingly tedious.

Though of the two, while I might have expected it of "Rob", I wouldn't have expected "David" to spout off about the "heritage of the Court" in the context of the racist Republican Senator Jeff Sessions.

"...if Roberts had said he was proud of his WASP heritage..."

Leaving aside the dubious notion that WASP's have a "heritage" in the same way that Hispanics do, David's hypothetical does not even comport to basic facts, since Justice Roberts is Catholic.

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