President Obama has picked a veteran jurist with solid credentials. Sotomayor is probably the least offensive person Obama could appoint to the Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see what information comes to light during the confirmation process, but at first glance this pick looks like a strong one. Cynics will point to identity politics being behind Sotomayor’s selection, and there is probably truth to that. But this doesn’t mean the GOP should fall into Obama’s trap.
Criticising Obama for playing racial politics ignores the real issue, whether Sotomayor is unqualified for the Supreme court and if Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy is contrary to conservative legal thinking.
The answer to the first question is yes, Sotomayor is more than qualified for the position. She may not be the most qualified, but her resume is still impressive. Private practice, Asst. District Attorney, Eighteen years as a judge, 10 years as a law professor/lecturer.
Now, her judicial philosophy is harder to pin down. She doesn’t appear to adhere a specific legal dogma. Is she liberal? Probably. Is she a strict constructionist? Probably not. Will her presence on SCOTUS turn the court into an extension of the legislative branch? Not any more than it is. Sotomayor won’t swing the court hard one way or the other, she’s no Ginsburg (a former ALCU lawyer and unabashed liberal advocate). Ginsburg dedicated her legal life to righting what she thought were wrongs. Sotomayor, to me, is just a judge trying to be a good judge.
There really shouldn’t be much opposition to Sotomayor. Any opposition needs to focus on substantive issues related to judicial philosophy and the role of the judiciary in the public policy process. The public should understand that Republicans oppose activists judges and that they have reservations about Sotomayor. That’s a fair criticism.
Focusing on the issues and making the case for originalist philosophy should be the GOP’s strategy. In the end, the Republicans should give Sotomayor the benefit of the doubt. She is not the appointee to filibuster and doing so would be a constitutional tragedy and a PR nightmare.
Filed under: Law