Nominee Sotomayor

Judge Sonia Sotomayor with Obama and Biden

I haven’t read through any of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s rulings, so I don’t feel even remotely qualified to say whether or not she is qualified for a spot on the Supreme Court. But Obama, Clinton and George H.W. Bush think well enough of her.

Aside from them, my three favorite legal bloggers have also weighed in with mixed reviews.

Glenn Greenwald is impressed with the choice (he even presented a few cases in her court). He also wants to forestall any attempts to paint her as an über-liberal:

She was originally appointed to the bench by Bush 41 and her confirmation to the Second Circuit was supported by some of the most right-wing Senators (including Jesse Helms, Rick Santorum, Bill Frist and similar types).  She began her law practice working as a District Attorney, prosecuting criminals.  Anyone who wants to characterize her as “left-wing” — especially radical left-wing or even to the left of Souter — should be compelled to point to specific judicial rulings or other evidence for that characterization.  The fact that she’s Latina and from the Bronx isn’t actually evidence of her ideology or judicial philosophy.

Jonathon Turley thinks that Sotomayor’s rulings reflect a lack of intellect. He explains on video:

Jack Balkin thinks the pick is sensible, especially in terms of the President’s politics. This part of his post seems like it was directed at critics like Turley:

There are other very suitable people Obama might have chosen instead, but he is likely to have other opportunities during his presidency. Therefore we should not understand his failure to pick someone like Diane Wood or Elena Kagan, for example, as reflecting any difficulties with these candidates. They may well end up on the Supreme Court, just as Steve Breyer eventually was selected by Bill Clinton after having been passed over the first time.


  1. Biff

    Greenwald is right! I too think it was very brave of Obama to choose a center-right judge for this first Supreme Court appointment. It will stop the rightwingnuts from criticizing him and appeal to the party base at the same time. Maybe, after President Obama is re-elected in 2012, he can choose a centrist like Breyer. Truly, this is Change We Can Believe In!

  2. Chris

    As long as she’s not inclined to agree with Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, I’ll be happy.

  3. Ian

    Well, I can’t say I agree with Scalia and the others you listed, but I do generally respect them as being reasonable. I read a comment by Scalia where he basically said that you can’t expect the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade because the Supreme Court isn’t meant to be some kind of supra-legislative body. They are meant to interpret the Constitution and apply that interpretation. Certainly the interpretations vary, and these are every day people and they are fallible, but I only hope that they remain reasonable in their rulings. I can accept a ruling I disagree with if that ruling is well reasoned. You win some, you lose some. I’d honestly rather see justices whose votes you can’t predict based on party politics.

  4. Chris

    I’m not trying to paint those justices as radical ideologues or anything similar. Their rulings are “reasonable”, but by the time a case gets to the Supreme Court it’s usually because the question at hand can’t be answered by established law. So the outcomes are inevitably based on philosophy, ideology and other personal biases.

    Also, some of the judges I listed have proclaimed that they are Constitutional Originalists, which is something I disagree with. I think the Constitution needs to be flexible to account for cultural, societal and technological shifts.

  5. Ian

    On another note, how about Limbaugh and Gingrich calling Sotomayor racist? Its like they don’t even care how hypocritical, they will just say anything.