Now that the Michael Jackson story has mostly faded from the public consciousness, the media has turned its eye towards Sotomayor. I have been watching the hearing on CNN and I am confident that she will receive the nomination. After all, the Democrats are in control and it would be rather odd of them to turn against Obama’s nominee. As such, the hearing is primarily a formality and a chance for politicians to posture and try to score political points.
Of course, there is always a chance (however remote) that something will happen to dramatically change the seemingly inevitable course of events. For example, Sotomayor might accidently overdose on any pain medication she is taking for her broken ankle. Driven to madness by the drugs and the presence of so many politicians, she might shout out “Gringos, voy a tomar sus armas y exigir a todas las mujeres tienen abortos plazo tarde!” This, would, of course probably put a damper on her chances. But, barring such an event, things look good for her.
The three main attacks on her have been on her infanous “wise latina” remark, on her ruling in the case involving the promotion test, and her apparent confirmation conversion (in which she says what the audience wants to hear, even if it seems to go against what she has said in the past). The usual side attacks have been that she will be an “activist” judge (“activist judge”= “a judge I disagree with”) and that she will let her personality impact her decisions.
The remark, as I have blogged before, is grounds for concern. But, to put it in perspective, if that is the worst thing she has said in public, then she is doing quite well. Also,what is most critical is to look at her rulings-do they reflect racism and sexism on her part?
Her ruling on the case also raises legitimate concerns. hile her ruling was overturned 5 to 4, all the judges were critical of her view. However, this is mitigated by the fact that it is only one case (hence must be assessed in the context of all her rulings) and that, obviously enough, judges disagree. The key question is whether this ruling revealed a serious flaw in her competency or not.
The confirmation conversion is, of course, what every nominee goes through. While people should be consistent, this cannot be used as a special attack against her-although the general practice should be condemned (and hence her using this tactic). It is, of curse, perfectly legitimate to point out inconsistencies in what she has said in the past and what she is saying now. But, of course, people do change their views. After all, Reagan was a Democrat once. The key question here is whether she changed her views for good reasons or if she is just saying what she believes they want to hear. Another important question is whether she really believes what she is saying now.
As far as being an activist judge, that seems to be a spurious charge. What is really being said, it most often seems, is that an activist judge is simply a judge the person making the accusation does not agree with. However, if a substantial flaw can be found in her legal approach, then that would be fair grounds for attack.
Finally, obviously her personality will play a role in her judgments. To say otherwise would be to claim that a person has a special mind that can judge in pure isolation from everything else that makes up that person. People can train themselves to minimize the impact of their biases, but to eliminate the impact of personality is hardly possible. The key question here is whether she would be prejudiced in a significant way or whether she would be objective to the degree that can reasonably be expected of a Supreme Court judge.
She may also find a pubic hair on her Coke can, as Clarence Thomas was accused.
Conservatives (And we know CT’s conservative voting record since he joined the SC. )drink Coke–some, allegedly, from cans covered with pubic hair. There are even studies done on the prevalence of Coke drinking in Red States.
Sotomayor admits to empathy, so she must be liberal. Of course empathy also sets her apart from the run-of-the-mill sociopath, and one would think that that would be a good thing for a Supreme Court judge or any other human being, but. . . that’s a subject for later discussion.
It’s been rumored that liberals drink McDonald’s Mccafe Cappuccino with Non-fat Milk from take-out cups.Those cups don’t sweat like Coke cans, so I question the likelihood that pubic hair might stick to them as readily as it might to a sweaty Coke can. Unless of course, it’s unusually sticky pubic hair.
Note to God: Forgive me for employing the same graphic language our national representatives have used questioning Thomas and Clinton.
“Sotomayor admits to empathy, so she must be liberal. Of course empathy also sets her apart from the run-of-the-mill sociopath, and one would think that that would be a good thing for a Supreme Court judge or any other human being, but. . . that’s a subject for later discussion.”
Empathy is very open to interpretation. this video is very scary and tells all.
I don’t think the video has anything to do with empathy. Empathy has to do with one’s capacity to understand someone else’s feelings, motivations, etc. It’s entirely possible to have such sensitivity to another and still remain objective when deciding a case.
The problem lies in the fact that laws as they are written are often open to intepretation. They are not always clearly and concisely written–perhaps because our elected officials are too often incompetent louts who work with a minimum of concern for the consequences of their acts and a mighty, all encompassing concern for their individual power and well-being.
To claim that there’s some “original”/”absolute” interpretation to strive for is, if not folly, a sad illusion. When the court makes a decision one way or the other (often 5-4 based, whether they admit it or not, on conservative or liberal theory) interpretations of precedents are frequently tweaked to fit the written opinions. Cynical? Or realistic. . .
220 years later,and the First and Second Amendments are far from being refined to a point where decisions about freedom of speech and the right to bear arms coming out of the SC are going to be consistently 9-0.
Policy: When the courts decide in an area where the law needs clarification, that is, arguably, making policy.
I was trying to say that empathy does not concern me. What she jokingly discusses in the video does. It is joking about be activist as a judge.
Michael LaBossiere says
That doesn’t seem scary-rather it seems to be honestly saying how it is. Legal rulings do create policy in the sense that they interpret the law. So, when a ruling comes down, people are supposed to act in conformity to that ruling. This does not create a new law, but it can change how people are (suppose to) act. As such, that would be a policy change.
Judges should not, of course, create new laws. That is not (in the US) their legally defined function. But, they do interpret law and thus play a role in creating what the actual policies are. For example, when the Supreme court voted down Sotomayor’s ruling on the promotion test, they made policy by changing how the law is to be applied.
Of course, we can debate what “policy” means.
Way to sugar coat and water it down Mike. You guys slay me. What would actually define an activist judge to you? Do they actually have to use the word activist?
Policy means abortion Mike, that is what it always comes down to. It is the Left’s Holy Grail and they never want to let go of it. The ironic thing is abortion is probably the leading cause of death with the children of Democrat constituents. Oh, the irony.
Michael LaBossiere says
But why does it always come down to abortion? I was wondering the other day about the incredible obsession that the left and the right have with this issue. Anyone willing to offer some psychological speculation on this?
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist and I don’t portray one on TV.
I think perhaps the obsession with abortion on the religious and political left and right arises from the fact that abortion is a perfect wedge issue. Since the only ‘absolute’ answers about when human life begins reside in the minds of the faithful on either side, those who can play on those differences know that any consideration of the topic drives the ‘absolute believers’ further apart into more firmly entrenched and more easily manipulated camps. Thus, for the extremes, it’s the topic that will keep on giving and giving and giving and . . .
Well it must come down to abortion with her, also, since she won’t answer the questions.
Michael LaBossiere says
No nominee ever does. Look back at Roberts, for an example from the conservative side of the bench.
She cannot even answer a simple question. She is trying to dodge every question thrown at her.
“”Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., opened the questioning today by pressing Sotomayor on her claim that she was bound by precedent in ruling against the white firefighters. Sotomayor, who has danced around the question all week, started to review the facts of the case when Kyl interjected. “The question I asked was very simple,” he said, apologizing for the interruption and reminding her of the question: What was the precedent by which she was bound?”
A few minutes later, he stopped her again: “Let me interrupt again, because you’re not getting to the point of my question,” Kyl said, adding that Sotomayor would never let a lawyer get away with indirect answers in her courtroom. He said Sotomayor would admonish an elusive lawyer by saying, “That’s all fine and dandy, counsel, but you’re not answering my question.”
And on it went.””
Michael LaBossiere says
She can answer questions, obviously. To be fair to her, that is how every nomination I’ve seen has gone-that is what they all do. So, she cannot be singled out for special criticism. That said, it is fair to question the practice that nominees follow: the practice of not answering questions that would really reveal their views. Ironically, they get to reply to questions about how they would rule on something coming before them (the most important questions) by saying that they cannot answer because it is something that will come before them. That is like not being able to ask a potential employee how they would do the job you are hiring her for.
Actually, I think that the abortion issue is more quiet than it’s ever been. In the 90s it was far from that. And whatever the political affiliation of of the current president, abortion has been legal since Roe v. Wade.
I am however, glad that abortion was not a legal option when my mother was living in a car and eating Campbell’s soup, three meals a day. and she didn’t want kids, so…. at least there was my grandmother.
I don’t know if Sotamyer could be called an activist, but I’d call her a feminist, and a racist. If she’d ruled the the same way she did against the firefighter, but against a black person, what would the message be.
Seems obvious. But I’m just a hateful, cornfed, white male, who has religious delusions. Perhaps I should flee my country and start a new one someplace where such labels are not placed on me. Anyone want to go to Pilgrim’s Rock with me?