Justice Sotomayor

There is little to add to the avalanche of coverage of the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, of the New York federal appellate bench. The New York Times’ summation is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/us/politics/14confirm.html?hp

It’s astounding to consider there is any debate about her elevation. She has been considered a star of the bench since she was appointed by the first President Bush, in 1992. She will, of course, become the first Hispanic member and the 111th member of the court.

We’ve avidly followed and covered Supreme Court nomination hearings since Clarence Thomas was nominated in 1991. Little in the rhetoric exchanged in this or any other individual hearing is as telling as a stroll down memory lane to transcripts of prior hearings. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/senate/judiciary/scourt.html

A few observations. Today’s “great inspiration” (Democrats) will “legislate from the bench” (Republicans). Were a Republican in the White House, you could just exchange the descriptions. The quality of excellence in jurisprudence is so unknown, that it practically begs for politicization (particularly from politicians). A great case in point is any of the Clarence Thomas discussion. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/senate/judiciary/sh102-1084pt1/22-25.pdf

In his many years as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond developed criteria desirable in a judge. During the confirmation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, he recited them as: unquestioned integrity, courage, learned in the law, compassion, proper judicial temperament and with an understanding and appreciation of the majesty of our system of government. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/senate/judiciary/sh-j-97-51/1-2.pdf

And yes, you read that right. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions today said “I believe our legal system is at a dangerous crossroads,” and found offensive Sotomayor’s view that judges should possess compassion. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/07/13/2009-07-13_sotomayor_praised_by_republicans.html

Finally, it’s worth a gander at the always priceless document entered into the record during O’Connor’s 1981 confirmation. Willel W.G. Reitzer, a private citizen of Washington, D.C., submitted “The Case Against Women in Certain Occupations.” http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/senate/judiciary/sh-j-97-51/413-414.pdf In sum, women joining the high court bench is “the Garden of Eden syndrome all over again.” Mr. Reitzer warned of the doom to come:

“As more women go into more occupations, divorce rates keep climbing, male unemployment and instability keep increasing. The hard fact is: Mrs. O’Connor is putting another man out of work. She is setting and example and precedent that will put other men out of work. Women in certain occupations put greater strain on men: psychologically, sexually, in other ways.”

Should Judge Sotomayor be confirmed, as expected, there are three men who will have missed their place in history. And there are three women who will have made theirs.

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