Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As expected, the reaction to the nomination of Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor (correct pronunciation here) has been swift in coming. First, some facts. According to Orin Kerr at the VC, Judge Sotomayor is "the third Yale Law grad of the nine Justices on the Court; the sixth Catholic; the ninth former court of appeals Judge; and the first Second Circuit judge to get the nod since Thurgood Marshall in 1967." In addition, Judge Sotomayor has served as a district court judge, thus in the words of President Obama, "Walking in the door she would bring more experience on the bench, and more varied experience on the bench, than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed."
With the nomination announced, all that remains is the confirmation proceedings. WIth the Democratic caucus currently holding a 59-40 advantage that is expected to increase to 60-40 with the likely ruling that Al Franken will be the new Democratic Senator from Minnesota, the confirmation should be fairly easily accomplished. (Time Magazine is already predicting that this ease based on Sotomayor's qualifications as well as the dynamics of the Senate.) However, this does not mean that there will not be bumps along the way. While most on the Republican side of the aisle are keeping quiet for the moment, Senator McConnell has made it a point to remind everyone that "the Senate is not a rubber stamp" and also promised to "fairly," but "thoroughly," evaluate the nominee. However, the ABA Journal has already outlined four potential lines of attack, including that she "is not smart enough;" "is a judicial activist;" "is dismissive of positions with which she disagrees;" and " is too gruff and impersonable." It looks like the ABA might be onto something, as the few statements from the right that are trickling out describe Judge Sotomayor as "a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy" (Mitt Romney); an "avowed judicial activist" (Americans United for Life); and "a nominee whom he can count on to indulge her own liberal biases"(Ed Whelan). For their part, the feminist writers note that Sotomayor is likely to face gender-based attacks as well, such as her lack of children and even her weight.
The confirmation process should be be interesting to watch. Sotomayor has a long judicial record, and has made some interesting comments about the judicial role. In Part II of this round-up, we'll explore the nomination in more detail. There is so much more that is being said. We'll also have an analysis of the pick. Please return to this space as your source for all things nomination related. We will do our best to cover and analyze all major developments.