Exhibit 19.5

The Supremes

I love Supreme Court nomination hearings. I only barely remember watching some of Clarence Thomas's, but that was all it took. Unfortunately, they've never been that explosive again--or involved a would-be justice allegedly describing pornographic films--but they're still fun.

We're a month or two away from Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings and unless something more shocking than her diabetes comes up, it's looking like it will be a cakewalk. She's clearly no Harriet Miers--or Clarence Thomas for that matter--and so far the arguments against her can basically be summarized thusly:

* She might not be smart - This is unrelated, but Clarence Thomas hasn't asked a question during oral arguments since February 2006. Just saying.

* She too smart and therefore, as a woman, sort of a bitch - Something tells me this argument isn't going to win anyone over.

* She's racist - ?

What's clear at this point--other than one political party apparently having decided to add Hispanics and women to the list of groups they don't want votes from--is that Sotomayor is sharp and aggressive and proud of her heritage (as she should be). The same could be said of Justice Alito who spoke quite proudly about his roots as the son of Italian immigrants at his confirmation hearings.

(Also interesting is that Alito and Sotomayor share an identical educational trajectory - undergraduate degrees from Princeton and then law school at Yale where both were editors of the Yale Law Review [Alito graduate from law school in '75, Sotomayor in '79]. Remember how everyone said Alito was an unintelligent, affirmative action case? Oh, right, that never happened).

What's so sad and predictable about the identity-based attacks on Sotomayor is that it was the last administration's actions that forced this nomination. Somehow by floating Alberto Gonzalez's name and briefly nominating the unconfirmable Miers, we all shrugged our shoulders as two more male whities were confirmed and the court grew even less representative of the country. Poor Ruth Bader Ginsberg has spent the last few years looking like she's about to Pelican Brief a colleague or two herself if things didn't change. Obama really had no choice but to nominate a woman and, with no guarantee of getting to select a second justice (though it's likely), a minority woman was as inevitable as it was the right thing to do.

Which is not to say Sotomayor doesn't deserve her spot--she's done more to deserve it than just about anyone currently on the court from the looks of things--just that it's unfortunate a nominee who will make the court look more like America gets criticized for those very qualities. Where the right is wrong is in assuming those are the qualities that make her weak when the truth is exactly the opposite.

Oh, and she saved baseball. So there's that.


Anonymous said...

If Republicans want to play this game then let them. Essentially they're going to write of the southwest which creates a nearly impossible scenario to win a national election.

I see John Cornyn today called out Rush and Gingrich. Good for him.


YoYo said...

Judicial activism is wrong.

And can we PUHLEEZE stop blaming the previous administration for every single thing that's wrong in our country today?

Anonymous said...

Sotomayor has done more to deserve being on SCOTUS than any other Justice? Seems like an extraordinarily arbitrary value judgment..

A. Peterson said...

Well, insomuch as deserve has little role to play here, sure, but it's not as if I or anyone is saying that's why she should be confirmed. I think her record as a student, lawyer, and judge speaks for itself and the statement you find objectionable was an aside in a sentence saying as much. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out the extraordinary set of circumstances that have brought her to this point.

Her by-the-bootstraps story is something the country has always (rightly) valued as uniquely American, and everyone--especially those on the right who fell all over themselves for a white, male justice with a similar story like Alito--should be celebrating it.

And, honestly, when we're talking about choosing nine people out of 300 million, if you think such 'value judgments' are problematic or arbitrary, you're being neither interesting in your criticism nor realistic in your expectations.

What non-arbitrary criteria would you prefer to choose those 9 people? LSAT scores? For god's sake, value judgments are nearly all we've got in this and almost any other endeavor and while we may value different things, that hardly means the differences are arbitrary. So, yes, her story alone is obviously no reason for her to be on the court. However, since she meets almost any other expectation of a justice (as do dozens of others), I am not only okay with her race, gender, and life story being considered, I would hope that would be the case. I value those things, yes.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, she is violating the Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges by belonging to this group, as detailed in the story below:


And here's the code for reference:

Anonymous said...

Oh I think she absolutely deserves to be on SCOTUS. I was mainly taking exception with the word "more." Saying she deserves it more than any Justice currently sitting is an extremely arbitrary value judgment. & don't get me wrong, I love value judgments, I just found that particular value judgment rather useless. Mainly I was just bored & wanted to defend the judicial honor of the rest of SCOTUS.