Thanks to family, school and work, I haven’t had much time to post lately. As school winds down, perhaps I’ll have more time to write.
Last week, Obama announced that Sonia Sotomayor is his nominee to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. Having never heard of her, I didn’t have an opinion. The only thing I had to go on were the previous words of the man who nominated her:
“I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”
“justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook”
“We need somebody who’s got the heart to recognize – the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”
“What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult.”
That last one makes me chuckle. Apparently, 95% of the cases sent to the Supreme Court by the Federal Circuit aren’t truly difficult? Sotomayor sent 5 cases to the Supreme Court. 95% (effectively all) of them weren’t difficult, huh? I wonder why she was overturned 3 out of those 5 times (60%)? Either those cases are truly difficult or she’s not a good judge.
I also like his statement about justice not being about some abstract legal theory or footnote. I wonder when was the last time a President called the Constitution an “abstract legal theory” or a “footnote”…
Finally, his emphasis on empathy worries me. Not that empathy is a bad quality…in a friend, manager or spouse. But I find it difficult to believe justice will truly be blind when the person applying it has “empathy” for the underdogs facing her, instead of strict adherence to the Constitution. The underdog isn’t always in the right.
I have no beef with her resume. She’s gone to good schools and had a long career on the bench. However, since Obama’s made a point of talking about her race, let’s discuss that. When you make race a factor in promotion decisions, you make it possible to promote somebody who wouldn’t qualify based on talent. They make up for the lack of it by being a member of the favored class. My fear is this is how Ms. Sotomayor came to be where she is.
Finally, Coyote has a great post on a decision she participated in that allowed one man to literally steal another man’s land. Why? He was a member of the local government.
Based on these things, I do not support her nomination. There may be worse nominees out there, but I’m sure there are better.