City of Brass

City of Brass


Sonia Sotomayor and empathy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

One of the key traits that President Obama said he was looking for in a Supreme Court Justice was “empathy” – an ability to weigh the outcomes of decisions on the average man and woman, a pragmatic assessment of the actual impact of the law on the people. In that regard, his just-announced selection of Sonia Sotomayor is excellent; her life story as the daughter of immigrants and humble origins in the Bronx housing projects, as well as her father’s tragic death from diabetes, gives her a full-scale perspective on what it’s like for the people at the bottom and the challenges they face as they struggle to survive, and succeed.

Of course, Judge Sotomayor has done more than survive or succeed – she has excelled, with a legal career that is simply unmatched by anyone else on the Court at the time of nomination. Graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, editor of the Yale Law Review, and three decades of legal experience all make her a heavyweight first-pick (especially relative to Harriet Miers…).

So, naturally, the Republican activist response is to dismiss her as “an affirmative action judge by an affirmative action president”. They also will try to paint her as a “pro-abortion extremist”, even though her record on abortion is decidedly moderate. However, the Senate Republicans are probably going to roll over and submit to an up-or-down vote on her nomination with no fuss. Of course they will all vote against her confirmation, but they won’t dare try a filibuster or other delaying tactic.

Last week, the Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio discussed the potential nominees – that was a great segment whihch really illustrates Sotomayor’s strengths and insight into why Obama picked her.

Related: Rod Dreher makes an absolutely unfair comparison to Harriet Miers, seemingly only because they both are women. Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald, who has actually argued cases before Sotomayor, has a couple of posts defending her intellectual acumen.



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