Must Reads: Sonia Sotomayor & Floyd Abrams

There’s nothing like Sunday morning & the New York Times. We can’t live without Frank Rich, who offered the most clear-eyed assessment of the farce that was the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19rich.html She is a great and worthy judge who has proven herself time after time after time. It is precisely that which makes her different – and to some Senators suspect – that is her greatest contribution to the high court. There is very little more to say on this other than confirm her now.

The other must read was the business section take on Floyd Abrams, who’s going into battle on behalf of Standard & Poors – aka the gang that couldn’t rate straight. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/business/19floyd.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=floyd%20abrams&st=Search Though the hook of the story is sweetly naive – what’s the major domo of First Amendment doing representing corporations? – the piece itself reveals some of the interesting issues that are likely to be litigated now that traction is being gained in the lawsuits against Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch.

Abrams and his Cahill Gordon partners are defending more than 30 suits filed against S&P for awarding high ratings to billions of dollars of debt that went bad, even as they were paid by those whom they rated. Abrams’ first argument is a motion to dismiss on July 31. He will claim that S&P’s ratings should have the same level of free-speech protections afforded to journalists on the theory a bond rating is like an editorial. As to claims of fraud, Abrams discloses he will argue that S&P was just as blindsided as everyone else.

The article also reveals that no litigant has won against S&P with one exception: a small settlement in Orange County, Calif., 10 years back.

Abrams is the best, no doubt about it. And he may need to be. The article also shares an email exchange between two S&P analysts: “It could by structured by cows, and we’d rate it,” wrote one.

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