Sotomayor to be Obama’s SCOTUS pick

Posted on May 26, 2009

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(Image credit: ABC News)

In a move that surprised few, President Obama nominated the front-running candidate to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter in Sonia Sotomayor. Obama, who has listed “empathy” as a criteria for being a judge, which sounds nice but has little place in the role of an impartial legal umpire, will likely get Sotomayor approved as while Republicans might put her feet to the fire over a few issues, I can’t see them going all filibuster over her, unless something supremely distasteful shows up. Hispanics are bursting with pride over the selection of the first Latina Supreme Court nominee, and I’m glad for them, but we still ought to examine closely her judicial philosophy and temperament.

There are issues for concern. Sotomayor is undoubtedly a liberal, which in and of itself doesn’t immediately disqualify her. However, she has made statements to the effect that one’s gender and ethnicity ought to influence one’s judicial philosophy, none of which makes any sense when one considers the rule of law. One such statement was made in a 2001 speech and reported by the New York Times:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Switch the ethnicities being mentioned by Sotomayor, and it would be fairly controversial, right? Especially if spoken by Samuel Alito or John Roberts before they underwent the confirmation gauntlet. Judicial decisions should be based on law, and while one’s personal experiences might give depth to an opinion, at the end of the day a responsible judge should be judging based on the facts and decided law, not on the unique perspective of an identity group.

Not only that, but we have the troubling statement in 2005, captured in this video, where Sotomayor indicates that the Court of Appeals is “where policy is made.” What’s more, she laughs it off, almost to say, “Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing under the Constitution, but who cares, right?” Legislating from the bench is something that irks me to no end, as it seems fairly obvious that the Framers did not intend that function to be ascribed to the unelected and unaccountable judiciary.

It’s clear to most that Sotomayor is a liberal, which is why Senator Chuck Schumer’s recent comments are even more laughable. Sen. Schumer, ridiculously claiming Sotomayor is a “moderate,” warns Republicans not to listen to the 5% extreme fringe and oppose her, claiming this nomination is a referendum on the direction of the GOP. The concerted and orchestrated effort to move Republicans left never stops, it seems. Never mind that Sotomayor is nothing approaching a “moderate,” and even moderate Democrats like Ben Nelson have expressed reservations about judicial activism. Schumer’s a little weasel, and his threat to label Republicans as right-wing and racist if they take issue with Sotomayor is a clown-like song-and-dance that I doubt will be followed up with any action (but more words, I’m sure).

Michelle Malkin and the Anchoress have more round-up regarding the nomination of Sotomayor. In any case, although it appears Sotomayor is fairly liberal, and one that the New Republic reveals has questions regarding her temperament, philosophy, and intellectual effectiveness, her confirmation will not fundamentally change the balance of the Court. Yes, she may be to the left of Souter, but the votes will still fall down the same way.

In a large sense, the pick must surely disappoint those who voted for Obama and expected him to govern from the center and as a pragmatic moderate. The decisions over the last several months have shown him to be anything but.

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Posted in: News, Politics