Friday, September 11, 2009
In an article in the 24 September issue of the New York Review of Books, Ronald Dworkin analyzes the Sotomayor hearings as a missed opportunity:
Her hearings could therefore have been a particularly valuable opportunity to explain the complexity of constitutional issues to the public and thus improve public understanding of this crucially important aspect of our government. But she destroyed any possibility of that benefit in her opening statement when she proclaimed, and repeated at every opportunity throughout the hearings, that her constitutional philosophy is very simple: fidelity to the law. That empty statement perpetuated the silly and democratically harmful fiction that a judge can interpret the key abstract clauses of the United States Constitution without making controversial judgments of political morality in the light of his or her own political principles. Fidelity to law, as such, cannot be a constitutional philosophy because a judge needs a constitutional philosophy to decide what the law is.
Dworkin also discusses Ricci and Sotomayor's statements on foreign law. It's an article worth reading (and there is also a podcast discussion).