I love Obama’s pick for SCOTUS, Judge Sotomayor. As a conservative, how can I love what is certainly an unqualified, combative, leftist, anti-business, reverse discrimination loving judicial appointment?
There are many, many reasons.
1) Judge Sotomayor is not an intellectual giant (that’s the nice way of putting it). Sure, she’s going to be a dependable liberal vote (as was Souter, the justice she is going to replace). But the decisions she has written have been so poor that they leave liberal opinions open to being overturned by subsequent SCOTUS justices. Even liberal court watchers have commented that Sotomayor is a political pick, designed to gain support from potential Hispanic voters, and NOT a true pick for “progressive” movement of the Supreme Court. A real intellectual pick would have been Kagen, or Wood, or any other very accomplished jurist who is respected for their written legal opinions, even if conservatives might disagree with those. Sotomayor just doesn’t have that kind of heft. In other words, she is a liberal replacing a liberal, but she won’t write opinions or make arguments in session that will help her cause like a Kagen or Wood might have. (Some have even gone so far as to call Sotomayor a liberal Harriet Miers).
Her rate of being overturned by higher courts (even a 5-4 liberal SCOTUS) are legend, including a 9-0 decision that overturned an opinion that she authored.
2) Sotomayor is a dependable vote on every liberal issue, except for one. Surprisingly, liberals in the pro-abortion camp are worried about her views on abortion. She has avoided any major rulings on the issue, but her minor rulings have all leaned pro-life! She wrote an opinion that the Mexico City policy (the elder President Bush’s executive order to prevent funds from funding abortions overseas) was correct under the law. In another ruling, she upheld the right of a school district to require parental notification for students that might be refered to an abortion counselor or clinic (she even added that the pro-abortion schools’ teachers had no standing in the case).
3) The democrats have lost any moral authority to attack republicans as being anti-Hispanic. While their memory is short, mine isn’t (and neither is that of Karl Rove’s). Recall that Miguel Estrada (a conservative judge) was attacked and fillibustered by democrats, and a memo was uncovered that democrats were doing it because they feared that a Hispanic would rise from the federal bench to the SCOTUS under the republicans! Let the dems try to raise the racism argument during confirmation hearings.
4) Sotomayor runs at the mouth like our current vice president. She has made comments that Latino women are more judicial than white males, and has a track record of other strange comments. She is very combative with her co-workers and the lawyers who argue in front of her, and is known as bully.
From The New Republic (a lefty read) comes this less than flattering assesment:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.
The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,” as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. “She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.” (During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, “Will you please stop talking and let them talk?”)
And that’s her friends on the left! You should read the whole thing.
In short, I hope that some GOP senators grow a spine and use this appointment to ridicule the democrats and their advocacy for judicial activism. But I also hope that they stop there and let Sotomayor on the bench. She’s not going to move the court to the left like a strong appointment could have. In fact, she’ll cause her fellow liberal justices to have more headaches.
That’s what you get when a president makes a pick for political reasons and not sound ones.