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Republicans Would Be Completely Mowed Down If They Fought Sotomayor

May 27, 2009

This seemed to be the prevailing understory yesterday, and continues to be a theme this morning.

The GOP may want to keep the meanness out of the Supreme Court nomination process concerning Judge Sotomayor.

Veterans of Supreme Court battles will remind you that they often take surprising turns. And Senate Republicans are keeping their options open, with plans to turn over all the stones they can find. (One option being considered is a focus on Second Amendment cases.) But Republicans tell us privately that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was a smart pick that may leave them relatively little to work with. Obama is picking a fight he has already won. She has no abortion opinions, and Bill Frist and Rick Santorum voted to confirm her as a federal appeals judge in 1998. In an overnight appeal to supporters, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, stopped far short of opposition: “Contact your two senators today and urge them not to rush to judgment on Sotomayor or approve her based on her biography.”

Republicans recognize that the party has to do better with Hispanic voters if it has any hope of winning a national election, and party officials know that waging holy war against the first Latina nominee to the High Court carries high risk. Worst-case scenario: cementing of stereotypes, and further minority alienation from the GOP. So there’ll be lots of posturing and theater and phony outrage. (One veteran tactician explains that both sides use these fights to set markers and send signals for the next pick.) And of course lots of conservative groups are depending on a “fight” to raise money and jump-start the movement. But barring one of Rummy’s unknown unknowns, White House officials expect a relatively painless and swift confirmation, with a bunch of Republican votes. It even looks likely that they’ll get it on the president’s timetable. Although Senate Republicans are not yet committing to a confirmation before the August congressional recess, our high-level soundings found little appetite for dragging out what looks like a foregone conclusion. As conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told us: “I don’t believe in charging up a hill when you’re going to be completely mowed down.”

  1. May 28, 2009 2:17 PM

    Was Brown v. Bd. Of Edcuation, to use your own question based on “to interpret the laws or try to make new ones because the present laws don’t fit your taste?”

    The horrendous Dred Scott decision can be viewed as ’strict constructionist’ thinking at work, (the type of legal framework you adovate) but most Americans would find Chief Justice Earl Warren’s tenure on the bench (my above question) more the model of what a working judiciary should resemble with the decision of his Court to outlaw segregation in public schools. Conservatives like to pretend they do not have an agenda with the placement of their judges, but they hope by increasing their numbers to undermine past rulings, and restore what they perceive as judicial over-steps.

    Let us keep things in perspective.

  2. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:57 PM

    So, what happened to Clarence Thomas 20 years ago during his nomination process was acceptable?

    If they question her “Empathetic” approach toward jurisprudence that would be a no-no and put the GOP on the “Politically Incorrect” side of the tote board?

    In an ideal Republic, politics would not play any role in this process. Simple question for qualification “Are you going to interpret the laws or try to make new ones because the present laws don’t fit your taste?”

    If the answer is the latter which I suspect is Judge Sotomayor’s than this is no longer the United States of America, it is the European Union, which is the track this administration seems to want take toward…

  3. Solly permalink
    May 28, 2009 11:20 AM

    I agree with Patrick, Damn Empathizer Sotomayor! But first let’s impeach that Sam Alito’s ass off the court!

    “When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.”

    U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Judge Samuel Alito’s Nomination to the Supreme Court

    U.S. SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OK): Can you comment just about Sam Alito, and what he cares about, and let us see a little bit of your heart and what’s important to you in life?

    ALITO: Senator, I tried to in my opening statement, I tried to provide a little picture of who I am as a human being and how my background and my experiences have shaped me and brought me to this point.

    ALITO: I don’t come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

    And I know about their experiences and I didn’t experience those things. I don’t take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

    But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

    And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

    And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

    But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.”

    When I have cases involving children, I can’t help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that’s before me.

    And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who’s been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I’ve known and admire very greatly who’ve had disabilities, and I’ve watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn’t think of what it’s doing — the barriers that it puts up to them.

    So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.

    COBURN: Thank you.

    Mr. Chairman, I think I’ll yield back the balance of my time at this time, and if I have additional questions, get them in the next round.

    SPECTER: Thank you very much, Senator Coburn.

  4. Patrick permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:00 PM

    The fact that the republicans can’t stop this nomination doesn’t mean they shouldn’t oppose a nominee who applies the same type of racist thinking to her judicial philosophy as any clansman would. Justice should be blind and only someone with stunning arrogance would assume that her experience as a latina woman provided her with greater wisdom than a white man. Imagine a white man claiming that his experience made him wiser than a latina woman….there would be a lynch mob. Justice for this nominee will be a matter of playing favorites–picking some groups for empathy while denying others a right to be heard.

  5. May 27, 2009 3:30 PM

    Want to place bets on this one?

    Let me be even more clear.

    When pigs fly.

  6. Neo Khan permalink
    May 27, 2009 3:19 PM

    The great irony is that Arlen Specter could have been the 1 minority vote needed to end judicial committee debate so that the Sotomayor vote would have easily moved onto the Senate floor.

    But now with Specter defecting to liberal camps, he forfeited his senior status on the judicial committee within the minority party (along with the 1 minority vote needed to end committee debate), which means that conservatives could now decide to quietly lock-up Sotomayor in committee thus implementing an old Ted Kennedy trick called: “The silent filibuster”.

    Some political analysts are now mocking democrats for the decision to woo Arlen Specter into their political party in an effort to increase votes, which now may actually result in a significant increase to GOP political power on the judiciary committee and a new-found ability to filibuster anyone that they find who has a background of legislating from the bench.

    How’s that for irony?

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