This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers.
Past Nominations …
Gallup conducted similar reaction polls immediately after former President George W. Bush’s nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court in 2005. Although in all instances, the reactions were more positive than negative, the net positive rating (the percentage excellent or good minus the percentage only fair or poor) was highest for Roberts and Sotomayor, and lowest for Alito and Miers.
Perhaps when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was on a panel at Duke University and told the audience that “All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is – Court of Appeals is where policy is made …” she wasn’t thinking about facing the fire breathing dragons on the right during Senate confirmation hearings.
Let’s just say that explaining this statement is the first chapter of her briefing book. She’s a smart lady, she’ll do it. It should also be noted that “morgenr” the person who posted this video to YouTube only posted around 20 seconds of what was surely a longer statement.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor has served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since October 1998. She has been hailed as “one of the ablest federal judges currently sitting” for her thoughtful opinions,i and as “a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity”ii for her ascent to the federal bench from an upbringing in a South Bronx housing project.
- Obama Selects Sotomayor – New York Times
Judge Sotomayor, who stood next to the president during the announcement, was described by Mr. Obama as “an inspiring woman who I am confident will make a great justice.”
The president said he had made his decision after “deep reflection and careful deliberation,” and he made it clear that the judge’s inspiring personal story was crucial in his decision. Mr. Obama praised his choice as someone possessing “a rigorous intellect, a mastery of the law.”
But those essential qualities are not enough, the president said. Quoting Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mr. Obama said, “The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.” It is vitally important that a justice know “how the world works, and how ordinary people live,” the president said.
The judge described her selection as “the most humbling honor of my life.”
- Obama nominates Judge Sotomayor – Washington Times
The president said he wanted a nominee with intellectual rigor and an appreciation for the limits of judicial power — “a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law.” But he said it was Ms. Sotomayor’s “own extraordinary journey” from the housing projects of the South Bronx that he thinks will give her the “common touch” he wanted in a justice.
Mr. Obama also touted Ms. Sotomayor as a jurist with moderate appeal because she was first nominated to the federal bench by former President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.
- Obama chooses Sotomayor – Washington Post
However, Sotomayor is strongly opposed by conservative groups, who have signaled their intention to use her nomination as a rallying cry against liberal causes. Republican lawmakers said this weekend they would try to slow down her confirmation, which despite the strong Democratic majority in the Senate could lead to an all-consuming fight this summer that could divert attention from the rest of Obama’s political and economic agenda.
“Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written,” said Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, in a statement e-mailed to reporters this morning. “She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one’s sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.”
- SCOTUS pick is Sotomayor – CNN
Sotomayor, however, has suffered through recent stinging criticism in the media and blogs from both the left and right over perceived — some defenders say invented — concerns about her temperament and intellect.
As she has risen through the judicial ranks, Sotomayor increasingly has drawn the ire and opposition of conservatives. A majority of Republican senators opposed her elevation to the appellate court in 1998.
However, an official with the Republican National Committee promised that the GOP will be equitable toward Sotomayor.
“The Republicans are going to strike a tone that’s fair, that allows the vetting process to happen like it should, and that’s in stark contrast to how the Democrats dealt with Judge Roberts when you look back a couple years ago,” the official said, referring to the 2005 confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts.
In the partisan heat of Washington, our new president has gone to some lengths to take a log or two off the fire. Barack Obama has been met time after time with the back of the hand from the GOP. Now, days before Obama’s first nomination to the Supreme Court, Kyl is out there talking filibuster. Hell, he doesn’t even know who the nominee will be. For all he knows it will be Pat Buchanan. (Buchanan does show some empathy for the middle class.)
But no. Sen. Kyl is just unimaginative enough to grab a headline the easy way. He’s there in the middle of the Republican fire base cranking the air raid siren. Hopefully calling attention to nothing more than his brutish sense of politics.
The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster if President Barack Obama seeks a Supreme Court justice who decides cases based on “emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas.”
Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that his party likely does not have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, but he said nonetheless he would try to delay or derail the nomination if Obama ventures outside what Kyl called the mainstream.
“We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn’t decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas,” Kyl said.
Ed Henry, CNN White House correspondent says that a top aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy and three Obama Administration officials are sources for his reporting that President Barack Obama will announce his first Supreme Court nomination on Tuesday.
Still on the list according to Henry:
Henry says the president is till mulling and that the pick could be announced somewhat later next week.
(Source: White House Press Office)
THE PRESIDENT: Hey. I’m sorry, but Gibbs is screwing this thing up. You know, there’s a job to do — please, everybody, have a seat. There’s a job to do, you got to do it yourself. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: See you guys later. Have a good weekend. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is kind of cool.
MR. GIBBS: It’s way cooler than it seems. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Absolutely.
The reason I’m interrupting Robert is not because he’s not doing a good job — he’s doing an unbelievable job. But it’s because I just got off the telephone with Justice Souter. And so I would like to say a few words about his decision to retire from the Supreme Court.