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Sotomayor Heats Up

Sotomayor.jpgThe news media is obsessed now with Sonia Sotomayor. The newsfolks, ever out to gain some attention, are interviewing, or trying to set up, Republicans who will be involved in the process of approving her for the Supreme Court.

Many of us tire of the tediousness of nitpicking her every move and then approving her anyway.

The events surrounding the Sotomayor case remind me that this politicization of Supreme Court nominations got its big media boost with Joe Biden in the Clarence Thomas nomination.

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Bob Brague

posted June 3, 2009 at 12:37 pm

In Washington, they love “due process.” All of the tediousness and nitpicking of her every move and then approving her anyway is part of the process.
It’s called democracy, although with the current Dems-to-Repubs counts at 59-41, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.
The really scary part is that everything else for the next two (four? eight?) years will be also.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm

It could be argued that this tactic (“politicization of Supreme Court nominations”) began with Robert Bork, of which Biden was also a key player.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm

As a political junkie, I love this process. Yes, it’s a foregone conclusion that she will be confirmed, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any excitement in the confirmation hearings. Both sides will be looking to score points with their respective constituencies, and sometimes they actually do.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 2:29 pm
I wonder if she will say in the hearings that “at what point a baby gets human rights” is above her pay grade, as a well-known teacher of constitutional law once did.

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Chuck Warnock

posted June 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I doubt if the media “set up” Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh who both called Sotomayor a racist. Newt has since recanted; Limbaugh, of course, has not. I doubt that Clarence Thomas’ hearing was the beginning of SCOTUS nomination politics, perhaps you only remember that one. I, for one, remember “Impeach Earl Warren” signs dotting the South as I grew up. In any event, Sotomayor and all nominees for high office deserve respect. See my post on the subject at

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Bob Brague

posted June 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Chuck Warnock (or anybody else), not trying to be snarky here, but why do “all nominees for high office deserve respect”? Is it because we want to congratulate ourselves on having nominated them? Or something in their own nature? Or the offices themselves?
I could name a few nominees for, and even holders of, various high offices that do not deserve respect and probably won’t get mine. The federal prisons are full of them. Please make sure your answer is free of any leftist or rightist political agenda.
The rhetoric on the web from both left and right, both before and after the last election, didn’t seem very respectful to me. Sometimes it seems we are exhorted to be “respectful” just because someone else doesn’t agree with our point of view, without any reciprocal behavior on their part.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm

IMO, at least with respect to judges such as Sotomayor, they deserve our utmost respect because they sacrifice a lot for the good of our country. Having worked for a federal judge at the same level as Sotomayor, I know that they get a lot of death threats. And in the city where I practice law, a federal judge’s husband was killed not too long ago by a deranged litigant. They also get paid at least 5-15 times less than they could get in the private sector. Many of them do the “judge” thing despite these substantial negatives because they believe they have a higher calling. I tip my hat to all of them, no matter what their political leanings.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I’m so sick of hearing anything political any more that I am considering becoming a political pacifist, one who doesn’t fight. If I see obama on TV one more time without hearing policy (a la “a day in the whitehouse”), or lambasts against any politician, or any politicalization of judicial nominees (which is the most grievous error in my opinion), I might just quit voting altogether. I, for one, am sick of the rock starification of politicians as wright puts it.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I do not feel that Newt or Limbaugh were wrong in calling this woman a racist as her history shows she is interested in promoting her own heritage. She has a very high opinion of herself which bothers me a bit as well. She feels she can make law rather than interpet it which really bothers me. I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment and she certainly doesn’t interpet it the same way I do when it come to my right to own a gun or to have a concealed permit to carry a gun! I have no use for Obama because he refuses to open his records – now someone who goes to as much trouble as he does to keep them secret has something to hide. So I don’t consider him my president – you all can call him what ever you want but I don’t feel he is anything but an imposter and is doing more harm to our country than good.

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Kansas Bob

posted June 3, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Ditto this for me Scot:
“Many of us tire of the tediousness of nitpicking her every move and then approving her anyway.”

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Travis Greene

posted June 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Gretchen @ 9, “So I don’t consider him my president”
Is that really how you want it to work? Democracy is fine until your person loses? I wasn’t a fan of George W. Bush, but he was still my president. If John McCain had won, despite my not voting for him, he still would have been my president. Them’s the rules. Feel free to disagree with, criticize, or personally dislike Obama, but you don’t get to decide he’s “not your president”.

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don bryant

posted June 3, 2009 at 5:48 pm

I think the politicization of the Supreme Court nomination process began with Ted Kennedy and Robert Bork. And the Fifth Circuit nomination of Judge Pickering has to be up there as well. It will be difficult for President Obama to continue to maintain that the nomination of Sotomayor should not be politicized on the basis of ideology with his votes against Roberts and Alito, who he admitted were more than qualified for the bench.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

African American economist Thomas Sowell has a few words worth reading about Sotomayor.
She should not be opposed or supported on the basis of race, but on her level of commitment to the Constitution. Judges on the left or right who usurp legislative power should be opposed. I do find her association to La Raza troubling.
By the way. I watched the Bork hearings quite a bit because I was stuck in a hotel for several weeks on a construction job. Kennedy and Specter were both contemptible. That’s when this all began. And it was directly related to Roe v Wade.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Actually, even before Bork, the Senate Democrats picked a fight over Reagan’s nomination of conservative Daniel Manion to the 7th Circuit. I think it was a bit of a test case; they wanted to see how much they could flex their muscle before the real fights started over the upcoming Supreme Court nomination, which turned out to be Bork. That’s the earliest, most politicized nomination, I think (and this is coming from someone who leans Democrat). Either way, its clear that this is done by both sides.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Dan — what is your basis for questioning her “level of commitment to the Constitution”?
I have to say that in legal circles (both liberal and conservative) she is highly respected. She has issued decisions adverse to me, but I still respect the work she has done. This stuff by Sowell is just more of the same politicization of the process by someone using sound bites rather than analysis, and who probably hasn’t investigated her record in much detail.

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posted June 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I heard an interesting critique of identity politics on NPR yesterday. After what appeared as a thoughtful consideration of Sotomayor, the host asked whether we then posit “a spot for a Hispanic, for an African American, for a woman.” Interestingly, he never mentioned the idea of a spot for a white male. — They are merely the assumed appropriate candidates.
I once attended a conference where Nicholas Woltertorff reminded Christian scholars that they bring memories and hands and feet as well as minds to their work. He was making the point that people from different backgrounds bring different experiences, including different experiences with power. If people want to yell about “judicial activism” let’s talk about it on both sides of issues. A great article I read on this suggested another type of diversity: A nominee from a land-grant college or state law school, a candidate from the midwest, etc.
Randy Gabrielse

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