Hats Off To The Nine Republicans Who Voted For Sonia Sotomayor

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The Senate vote for confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor (68-31) was an embarrassment for the Republicans Party.  A truly partisan divide took place today for the vote to place Sonia Sotomayor on the bench.  A jurist it should be noted again that has all the credentials to make a fine addition to the Supreme Court.  As such I think it important to give a tip of the hat to salute the members of the GOP that were able to understand that elections have consequence, and that a nominee unless found not capable of holding the office for which they were nominated, should be seated.  It should be noted that both Maine Senators saw the light.

The Republicans who voted for confirmation are Lamar Alexander (TN), Kit Bond (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Judd Gregg (NH), Richard Lugar (IN), Mel Martinez (FL), Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH).

John McCain Shows True Colors

Yesterday John McCain was not sure how he would vote on Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.  Now we know, and it is not pretty.  I think this is more bitterness than substance on McCain’s part.  I also think this a dose of racism on his park due to his political situation in Arizona.

Arizona Sen. John McCain

 

said today he will vote against Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s pick to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

McCain’s no vote is interesting because he holds the view that “elections have consequences” meaning a president should get his nominee approved if qualified. 

McCain voted for Bill Clinton nominee Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for example.
McCain is also up for re-election next year, and not only does Arizona have a large Hispanic population, McCain also has a primary — against Chris Simcox, one of the founders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, an anti-illegal immigrant activist group.

“There is no doubt that Judge Sotomayor has the professional background and qualifications that one hopes for in a Supreme Court nominee,” McCain said in a statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate. He added, “And obviously, Judge Sotomayor’s life story is inspiring and compelling.”

But, “an excellent resume and an inspiring life story are not enough to qualify one for a lifetime of service on the Supreme Court,” McCain said. He cited, as have other Republicans Miguel Estrada, a Hispanic who was nominated by President Bush for the DC Circuit Court but blocked by Democrats. He added that he does “not believe that she [Sotomayor] shares my belief in judicial restraint.” And: “Though she attempted to walk back from her long public record of judicial activism during her confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor cannot change her record.”

 
 

Video: Sonia Sotomayor On Privacy

Privacy as an issue is very important to clear up for any person who wishes to sit on the United State Supreme Court.  On October 26, 2008 I wrote the following.

One of the issues that conservatives rail against is the idea that ‘privacy’ is protected in the Constitution.  While it is true that the Constitution does not mention the right of privacy, over time there has been recognition that privacy is an unenumerated right.  The Griswold Case is one that every high school kid learns about; as it was the first time that the Constitution protects a right to privacy.  In that case it was about the right to contraceptives.  In 1973 Roe v. Wade the issue of privacy was a central argument and focus, this time for the right of women to opt for an abortion.  In the famed Lawrence v. Texas, privacy was used to strike down a law against gay sex.

Sonia Sotomayor And Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes

While the biography of a nominee to the Supreme Court is interesting, it is the philosophical and ideological arguments that make for a fascinating debate in the United States Senate.  We have witnessed some of that today with the confirmation hearings on Sonia Sotomayor.  I think we all have been highly impressed.

But the purpose of this post is not applause for Sotomayor, but instead concerns a brief paragraph I throw as a template of sorts over the current political process playing out in the Senate.  When does one use ’empathy’ or emotion over constitutional law when writing a ruling when interpreting the U.S. Constitution? 

I started reading  (by design) “The Court Years” by William O. Douglas, who served on the Supreme Court from 1939-1975.  He has long fascinated me, and as such I have kept his autobiography on my reading pile until just the right time.  I still am not sure how I have such patience for books to be held until the right moment, while having little patience for other things in life.  Anyway, the book is filled with tidbits and gossipy extras that makes it highly enjoyable, and I strongly recommend it for those who love the Court or inside Washington intrigue.  The law is dissected, and cases revealed in wonderful detail that will delight every type of reader.

Now to the point of this post……..finally…….

Near the start of Justice Douglas’ tenure on the Court , then Chief Justice Hughes  “…made a statement to me which at the time was shattering but which over the years turned out to be true:  “Justice Douglas, you must remember one thing.  At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional.  The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections.”

Are we surprised that a Chief Justice would admit such a thing?  And would we want it any other way?  Really?

After all we put humans on the bench, not emotionless empty-souled robots.  Getting the right temperament in a highly motivated and brilliant jurist should be the top of the list for being nominated.  After that I think it fair to say a number of other human factors take over that help result in rulings.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this is how it really is on the Court.  Today however I swear that some in the GOP would do well to curl up with William O. Douglas’ autobiography tonight before the hearings start again on Wednesday.

Republicans Would Be Completely Mowed Down If They Fought Sotomayor

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.”

Supreme Court Nominee Sotomayor Looks Like America

How can we not be proud of the selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court?

CNN Reports

Sotomayor “is an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice,” Obama said at a White House announcement.

She “has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice,” he added.

Obama said Sotomayor would bring more experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the Supreme Court when appointed.

“Thank you, Mr. President, for the most humbling honor of my life,” Sotomayor said.

I think it obvious that we need to not only have first rate minds on the highest judicial benches in this nation, but also have ones that reflect who we are as a nation.

Judge Sotomayor scores high on each point.

By all accounts over the past weeks that various names have been in play for the nomination, there has been a continuous refrain of how committed Judge  Sotomayor is to the law.  Almost in the same breath is the acknowledgement of how intelligent she is.  Those are the essential ingredients with which to start.

In the weeks to come as the Senate hearings get underway we will be able to more fully appreciate her judicial philosophy, and the way she will treat cases that come before her.  If her past is prelude, then we have a very dedicated and fine public servant about to be the next member of the United States Supreme Court.

The fact she is a Hispanic woman is the very demographic that the Court needs at this time.  Having only one woman currently on the bench is unacceptable, as is not having any Hispanic.  Our nation needs as much diversity in our courts as we have at the local mall, and workplaces of this land.

There is every reason to feel proud today.  And I think with her placement on the Court we have every reason to be assured that our laws will be treated with the full respect and understanding that they need in this new century.