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Author Topic: Sonia Sotomayor nomination to US Supreme Court
SenojRetep
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Here, here, and here is a series of articles from the New Republic on the pros and cons of Sotomayor as a nominee and eventual justice.

My personal feelings...meh. I'm surprised this is the best nominee; while her resume is obviously impressive, I would have thought there were brighter lights to be found in the liberal legal firmament. From the articles, it seems likely she will act a role as a counter-bully to Scalia (at least during oral arguments). Ideologically, it appears she will essentially maintain the status quo.

As the last article points out, perhaps the most interesting question is how the Republican party will react during the confirmation hearings; will it bluster and blow, or will it bow to the (seeming) inevitable? Personally, I'd like to see a moderate approach, pointing out faults where faults exist (see the first two articles), but resisting the urge to turn the hearings into a circus.

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Lalo
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[Frown]

She looks... competent. But really, there was nobody better qualified than her?

Obama won on strength of his quality, not his race. You'd think he'd have the class to give that treatment to others as well.

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Tresopax
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I think a Supreme Court justice should be picked first and foremost based on stellar judicial ability and reasoning. This strikes me as a pick based more on race, gender, personal background, and the vague notion of Obama's that justices need to be able to feel for the people when interpretting laws. Then again, I really can only guess.
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The Pixiest
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I can't seem to find where this judge has ruled on anything gay-related. Does anyone have a link? or do we not know where she stands?

With the ruling today in California, it's as important as ever to have someone who respects the rights of all, not just their own race or gender.

Edited to add: Wow the media is just pumping her up. Has anyone seen any negative press on her? Yahoo's headline declares her an "inspiring" pick.

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Tarrsk
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I think a Supreme Court justice should be picked first and foremost based on stellar judicial ability and reasoning. This strikes me as a pick based more on race, gender, personal background, and the vague notion of Obama's that justices need to be able to feel for the people when interpretting laws. Then again, I really can only guess.

Have you read anything about her before reaching this conclusion? On paper, at least, she has at least as much legal expertise and experience as anyone already on the court.

Kneejerk reactions along the lines of "she must have been picked for her race and gender" are just as dumb as kneejerk reactions going the other way.

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Strider
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Well, with the huge pressure from different groups to pick a female judge or a hispanic judge, it does seem like he just found someone to fit both criteria and thought "brilliant".

A few weeks ago I said something along the lines of "i bet he picks a hispanic woman, that way everyone will be happy".

This shouldn't take anything away from Sotomayor. She may be extremely well qualified, and from the little I've read that does seem to be the case. But still, it seems like Obama went looking for the best person who fit a particular mold that would make some influential groups happy, instead of looking for the absolute best pick for the job, regardless of anything else.

It also has the benefit of IF the republicans try to block her nomination, it could serve to further disenfranchise women and hispanics from their party.

[ May 26, 2009, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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Tarrsk
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Again, the logic here seems to be "I haven't bothered to look up anything about Sonia Sotomayor, but because she happens to be a Hispanic woman, she must have been chosen for that rather than for her qualifications."

Look, a Supreme Court nomination is always going to have political ramifications, and will always be made with those ramifications in mind. For example, John Roberts is a brilliant legal scholar and was without question qualified for the Supreme Court, but he was also selected because he was young - so that Republicans could be assured of a strong conservative voice leading the Court for decades to come.

So I'm sure Sotomayor's demographic advantages were a major part of Obama's decision, but it doesn't make her less of a good candidate. Take a look at her resume - she got her law degree at the best law school in the country, served on a U.S. District Court and a Court of Appeals for a combined 18 years before her current nomination. She's also worked as an assistant DA as well as for a private firm, giving her a pretty remarkably broad legal background. As Obama noted in his speech, she actually has greater experience coming into this nomination than any of the current Supreme Court justices did when they were nominated.

To claim that she is unqualified (which is what you are doing when you say she was chosen only for political reasons) is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Have you read anything about her before reaching this conclusion? On paper, at least, she has at least as much legal expertise and experience as anyone already on the court.

Kneejerk reactions along the lines of "she must have been picked for her race and gender" are just as dumb as kneejerk reactions going the other way.

Is the same true for kneejerk reactions that I don't know anything about her? [Wink]

Yes, I did read some about her. Not a lot, which is why I said I can really only guess. It's at least clear she's well qualified. But the question is whether she is really the best of the best, and from the links posted in that first post I'd think there's some doubts about that.

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Lalo
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Her previous opinions are the meat and potatoes of what kind of justice she'll be, not her obnoxiously inspiring life story. Unfortunately, I can't find many examples of them. Wikipedia has a small selection of notable past cases here, nothing of which blows me away. She's apparently extremely experienced, though, so I'll wait for some news source to run an analysis on her legal theory.

If I could get a grasp of her philosophy, then I could render some kind of verdict. Right now, I'm just praying she's the start of a new era -- the Supreme Court of the past few decades has been utterly pathetic.

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Strider
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Tarrsk, I'll direct you to this part of my post:

quote:
This shouldn't take anything away from Sotomayor. She may be extremely well qualified, and from the little I've read that does seem to be the case. But still, it seems like Obama went looking for the best person who fit a particular mold that would make some influential groups happy, instead of looking for the absolute best pick for the job, regardless of anything else.
Again, when someone like me, with a moderate level of political understanding and very little specific knowledge about the supreme court can predict a hispanic woman will be picked, it says something about the nature of what led Obama to his choice. I AM NOT saying this is a bad thing. And I'm certainly not saying she is unqualified in any way.

Here's a question. Why is every member of the Supreme Court a former Circuit Judge?

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The Pixiest
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gay_marriage
quote:

Justice Carlos Moreno wrote the dissenting opinion disagreeing that the proposition did not change the constitution's equal protection clause. He said the law denying same-sex couples the right to wed "strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution." He said it represents a "drastic and far-reaching change."

"Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment for all," said Moreno, who had been mentioned as a possible contender for the U.S. Supreme Court. "Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment."

THIS is who Obama should have nominated.
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Lyrhawn
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Based just on that?
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Ron Lambert
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I do not know how the new Supreme Court nominee may have ruled on hot-button issues like same-sex marriage. But she is Hispanic, and most Hispanics I have noticed tend to be strongly in favor of "family values." She may say what she has to in order to be confirmed; but she may not toe the liberal line as closely as President Obama and other Democrats expect on all issues.

Let's just hope she is not in default on back taxes, like so many of Obama's other appointments have turned out to be, despite their supposedly having been "vetted" by his staff.

[ May 26, 2009, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Ron Lambert ]

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Samprimary
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Unaltered Mike Huckabee quote.

quote:
The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric. Sotomayor comes from the far left and will likely leave us with something akin to the "Extreme Court" that could mark a major shift. The notion that appellate court decisions are to be interpreted by the "feelings" of the judge is a direct affront of the basic premise of our judicial system that is supposed to apply the law without personal emotion. If she is confirmed, then we need to take the blindfold off Lady Justice.
ugh, how boneheaded.
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BlackBlade
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Ron: But she was not raised in a traditional family and may then see more validity in other models. While it's true many Hispanic people are want to swing conservative, they are largely swinging liberal because the Republicans are the ones screaming at them all to get out.
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MattP
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quote:
most Hispanics I have noticed tend to be strongly in favor of "family values."
Hispanics Back Gay Marriage at Same Rates as Whites
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
the Republicans are the ones screaming at them all to get out.

Not all of them (Republicans or Hispanics). Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain both supported compromise bills for immigration reform. And don't forget the love the Democrats showed to this Hispanic jurist.

To Ron's point, though, it seems pretty evident (at least from the rhetoric, which, keeping in mind she's replacing Justice Souter, can be misleading) that what Pres. Obama finds appealing about Judge Sotomayor is her potential to counterbalance the pro-institutional bias he sees in Justices Roberts and Alito. He wants a proponent of the underdog and Sotomayor has a judicial record and a personal history that indicate she will fill that role adequately and vociferously. She will be, I predict, the most vocal member of the court on issues of individual and minority rights.

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Ron Lambert
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While she is said to have believed appelate courts "make policy," she may be entirely different on the U.S. Supreme Court, where the overriding concern is constitutionality. (And things always look different from the top.) Other judicial nominees in the past have surprised everyone, including the president who nominated him or her. Justice Souter, nominated by the first President Bush, comes to mind. Believed to be conservative at the time of his nomination, he is now regarded by most conservatives as liberal.
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aspectre
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"Jumping off of tall buildings won't hurt you..." however "...the landing will probably kill you." Similarly, rightwing spinmeisters have split "Appelate courts often make policy..." from Sotomayor's concluding "...I don't believe they should be doing so."

Frankly, most conservatives will be repulsed by any Justice who doesn't edit the SixthCommandment into "Thou shalt...kill."

[ May 27, 2009, 12:46 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Obama won on strength of his quality, not his race.

You forgot a smiley. Or were you serious?
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
I can't seem to find where this judge has ruled on anything gay-related. Does anyone have a link? or do we not know where she stands?

There are a lot of issues other than gay rights, Pix. That can't be the only thing. I wouldn't care if she was a dyke herself. She's bad news.

quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
Edited to add: Wow the media is just pumping her up. Has anyone seen any negative press on her? Yahoo's headline declares her an "inspiring" pick.

The Obamedia fawning over one of his nominations? Shocking.

[ May 27, 2009, 01:20 PM: Message edited by: Lisa ]

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Samprimary
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"Obamedia" is one of the more simpering terms I've heard this year.
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Lisa
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Why thanks, Sam. I just made it up on the spur of the moment. What would you call the media that gives Obama the kind of pass they give him on almost everything?

Also, have you looked up the term "simpering"? I don't think it means what you think it means.

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Hedwig
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http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=obamedia
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DarkKnight
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quote:
"Jumping off of tall buildings won't hurt you..." however "...the landing will probably kill you." Similarly, rightwing spinmeisters have split "Appelate courts often make policy..." from Sotomayor's concluding "...I don't believe they should be doing so."
Sonia Sotomayor speaking about the courts
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Chris Bridges
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Sotomayor's "racist" line came in the midst of a speech on the scarcity of African-Americans and Latinos in the American judicial system, and directly after noting how rulings in favor of minorities didn't happen very often before those minorities got on the bench themselves. Her point seemed to be the need for diversity of experience and viewpoint. And she follows the oft-quoted line with an assurance that white men have indeed voted against discrimination in the past.

quote:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

Read the entire speech.. It doesn't sound racist to me as much as pragmatic and defensive; many white male judges and legislators do discriminate against minorities. It happens, frequently. (If you disagree, explain to me why penalties for crack cocaine -- overwhelmingly used by minorities -- are across the board more harsh than those for powder cocaine -- overwhelmingly used by Caucasians -- despite the identical effects.) I do think she worded it badly, though. Her ruling on the white police discrimination case bothers me much more than this one quote.

I think the minority status was a bonus, but I suspect that what Obama is hoping for is her reported ability to form consensuses with justices with opposing views, something he's trying to do with the legislature.

She may say what she has to in order to be confirmed; but she may not toe the liberal line as closely as President Obama and other Democrats expect on all issues.

Sorry, had to chuckle at that. Obama has not toed the liberal line as closely as the Democrats have expected. And he keeps going and nominating Republicans to key posts! It's almost if he just wants the best people in place, or something.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
Why thanks, Sam. I just made it up on the spur of the moment. What would you call the media that gives Obama the kind of pass they give him on almost everything?

I'd call that an over-inflated, deluded estimation of the media common in the sorts of people who tend to say other silly stuff like infer Obama was only elected "on the strength of his race"
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The Pixiest
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
I can't seem to find where this judge has ruled on anything gay-related. Does anyone have a link? or do we not know where she stands?

There are a lot of issues other than gay rights, Pix. That can't be the only thing. I wouldn't care if she was a dyke herself. She's bad news.


Of the issues you and I care about, how many of them are we likely to share with an Obama nominee?
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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That's a lovely excerpt from Sotomayor.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
quote:
"Jumping off of tall buildings won't hurt you..." however "...the landing will probably kill you." Similarly, rightwing spinmeisters have split "Appelate courts often make policy..." from Sotomayor's concluding "...I don't believe they should be doing so."
Sonia Sotomayor speaking about the courts
And for those who don't feel like clicking through, this is what she said:
quote:
Um, all of the legal defense funds out there, um, theyíre looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we donít make law, I know. Um, um ó [laughter] ó I know. Iím not promoting it, Iím not advocating it, and, Iím Ö you know. [laughter]
That's not selective quoting, it's bloody well what she said, and it's what she meant.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
And she follows the oft-quoted line with an assurance that white men have indeed voted against discrimination in the past.

quote:
Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.
.
.
.
I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Read the entire speech.. It doesn't sound racist to me as much as pragmatic and defensive; many white male judges and legislators do discriminate against minorities.
How is that relevant? So it's okay to declare white males as having inferior wisdom, across the board? Racism in one direction justifies racism in the other?

What part of "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" is that hard to understand? Her experiences make her better? Wiser? Do they make her wiser than any man, or just white ones? Do they make her wiser than all white people, or only men?

The idea that this woman would even be nominated is appalling. If a white male had said anything even remotely similar to what she's saying, but in reverse, it never would have been a question.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
I can't seem to find where this judge has ruled on anything gay-related. Does anyone have a link? or do we not know where she stands?

There are a lot of issues other than gay rights, Pix. That can't be the only thing. I wouldn't care if she was a dyke herself. She's bad news.


Of the issues you and I care about, how many of them are we likely to share with an Obama nominee?
I can always hope...
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Paul Goldner
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"That's not selective quoting, it's bloody well what she said, and it's what she meant."

So you agree she's not promoting it, she's simply making a statement of fact?

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
quote:
"Jumping off of tall buildings won't hurt you..." however "...the landing will probably kill you." Similarly, rightwing spinmeisters have split "Appelate courts often make policy..." from Sotomayor's concluding "...I don't believe they should be doing so."
Sonia Sotomayor speaking about the courts
And for those who don't feel like clicking through, this is what she said:
quote:
Um, all of the legal defense funds out there, um, theyíre looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we donít make law, I know. Um, um ó [laughter] ó I know. Iím not promoting it, Iím not advocating it, and, Iím Ö you know. [laughter]
That's not selective quoting, it's bloody well what she said, and it's what she meant.

Ahem.

So here we see the start of people harping on about how she's supposedly said that federal appeals judges should legislate from the bench. And the evidence is that clip from a 2005 Duke University forum.

Here's the full text of her answer, with emphasis added.
quote:
SOTOMAYOR: The saw is that if you're going into academia, you're going to teach, or as Judge Lucero just said, public interest law, all of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is -- court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know -- and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know. OK, I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it, I'm -- you know. OK. Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating -- its interpretation, its application. And Judge Lucero is right. I often explain to people, when you're on the district court, you're looking to do justice in the individual case. So you are looking much more to the facts of the case than you are to the application of the law because the application of the law is non-precedential, so the facts control. On the court of appeals, you are looking to how the law is developing, so that it will then be applied to a broad class of cases. And so you're always thinking about the ramifications of this ruling on the next step in the development of the law. You can make a choice and say, "I don't care about the next step," and sometimes we do. Or sometimes we say, "We'll worry about that when we get to it" -- look at what the Supreme Court just did. But the point is that that's the differences -- the practical differences in the two experiences are the district court is controlled chaos and not so controlled most of the time.
It's clear (with the actual CONTEXT) that she's talking about the distinct spheres of influence within the judicial system that the federal circuit courts have versus federal district courts, not some sort of advocacy for "activist judges." In other words, she's describing precedent. District courts don't set it, federal appeals courts do.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
What part of "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" is that hard to understand? Her experiences make her better? Wiser? Do they make her wiser than any man, or just white ones? Do they make her wiser than all white people, or only men?
No part of that is hard to understand. She's quite clearly talking about one Latina woman judging another.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
quote:
What part of "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" is that hard to understand? Her experiences make her better? Wiser? Do they make her wiser than any man, or just white ones? Do they make her wiser than all white people, or only men?
No part of that is hard to understand. She's quite clearly talking about one Latina woman judging another.
And do you see any words in what she said that would even suggest that, or is that just what you'd like it to mean? At no point is she referring to a Latina judging a Latina.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Goldner:
"That's not selective quoting, it's bloody well what she said, and it's what she meant."

So you agree she's not promoting it, she's simply making a statement of fact?

She's making a statement of what she considers to be fact. You aren't at all bothered by a potential supreme court justice who honestly believes that the courts are there to make policy?
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Juxtapose
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quote:
And do you see any words in what she said that would even suggest that, or is that just what you'd like it to mean? At no point is she referring to a Latina judging a Latina.
It's clear because of the context surrounding the part you quoted (you know, the part of the text you replaced with ellipses). She's speaking to the fact that a wide variety of experience comes before the court, and of the value of having a matching diversity on the court to render judgment.

quote:
You aren't at all bothered by a potential supreme court justice who honestly believes that the courts are there to make policy?
Wrong fact.
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SenojRetep
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Echoes of Harriet Miers. Questions by the President's party about the nominee's intellectual depth and toeing of the party line on abortion. Response by the President to, essentially, trust him. It's like its 2005 all over again.

*Note: I'm not comparing Miers to Sotomayor directly; such a comparison would be silly (IMO). I'm just pointing out the similarity of the concerns by the party faithful, and the similarity of the attempted reassurance by the President.

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MrSquicky
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I don't see questions about Sonia Sotomayor's intellectual depth, which was the thing that made Harriet Miers an absurd pick for the Supreme Court. The questions about Sotomayor seem to be about her unknown ideology on democratic issues. There are questions about whether she is the most qualified, but she is obviously not completely unsuited for the position, like Harriet Miers was. So, I'm not seeing the it being like 2005 all over again.

---

edit: The questions this time are "How can we be sure she is going to rule on things like we want her to?" not, as they were in 2005, "Are you insane? In what possible way is she qualified?"

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Noemon
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Well said, Squick (both the initial post and the edit).
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SenojRetep
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On the intellectual depth, from the second article, while expressing support, Marjorie Cohn also said:
quote:
She is not going to be another Thurgood Marshall...She will not leave an indelible mark on the court, ultimately, the way Earl Warren did or Oliver Wendell Holmes.
I've also seen statements comparing her (unfavorably) with Louis Brandeis and Cass Sunstein. The last comparison particularly points to a potential candidate who would have (in the thinking of those making the statement) a bigger footprint on the Court.

<edit>I'm not complaining about the nomination; of course, I thought that people complaining over Harriet Miers went significantly overboard. Sure she didn't have the ultimate resume, but I still believe she would have made a good Justice, and would have brought more practical (rather than ideological) insight into cases. She also would have been a much more "empathetic" Justice than I think Roberts is.</edit>

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Chris Bridges
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At no point is she referring to a Latina judging a Latina.

Her entire speech is about the need for more diversity in the courts because up until the last 40-50 years, white men have generally ruled in favor of white men, which is undeniably true. The changing society plus the emergence of women and minorities on the bench have brought more life experience, and she advocates this as a good thing.

Yes, she worded that one line very poorly, and she'll pay for it forever. I think she;'s defensive, possibly with reason; I'm not prepared to say she's racist. Still waiting to hear more about her ruling in the discrimination case.

Because what it boils down to is, how did she rule? I don't care what she says in speeches or to friends, don't care what her hobbies are, don't care what she personally thinks about old white men. When she was on the clock, did she rule fairly, with wisdom and with attention to both the rule of law and the individual case before her? There are 10 years worth of rulings from her, what do they say? Show me those examples, and I'll listen. Blowing up about poorly worded public statements does nothing for me, never has.

[ May 29, 2009, 09:40 AM: Message edited by: Chris Bridges ]

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Chris Bridges
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I'd like to stress that I'm not advocating for her. I have no idea what sort of judge she's been, or what sort of justice she'd be. But those two arguments are the most pervasive and the least sensible, in my opinion, and I enjoy stomping on that sort of thing wherever I can.
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scholarette
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One of the news articles on her mentioned a sexual harassment ruling she made in favor of the woman where Sotomayor referenced her own experiences. The ruling seemed fair, but would a man who has never been on that side of things been able to understand why this made for a hostile workplace? I think it is that understanding that Sotomayor is talking about.
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MrSquicky
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Senoj,
I consider being able to answer basic questions of constitutional law a sine qua non of being a Supreme Court justice and this was something that Harriet Miers was unable to do. If that's not something you value, well, I still can't see how you would consider her a potentially good justice, but the glaring reasons why she wouldn't are somewhat lessened.

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SenojRetep
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Squick-

I'm specifically not advocating for Harriet Miers (as I said in my first post). I was just pointing out the similarity of situation.

To the larger point, though, I don't know that there should be a sine qua non for Supreme Court Justices, or at least I'm not confident enough to say what it should be. I'm somewhat swayed by the idea that, as we apply increasingly high standards of "qualification," that the Court becomes more ideologically divided. The pressure to appoint only academically/professionally stellar candidates, while attractively meritocratic on the face, I think leads to a more shrill, more politicized court. I think that is what drove the whole "empathy" message coming out of the White House prior to this nomination.

As concrete examples, I don't know that Sandra Day O'Connor or Lewis Powell would pass the "qualifications" standards of today's court (or at least the court of public opinion). Both had resumes that lacked outstanding achievements (although O'Connor was third in her class at Stanford Law), and both went on to be moderate, compromise votes on the Court; neither left the footprint of a Warren or a Holmes (paraphrasing the quote from my earlier post), but I think such moderation serves an equally important role to the philosophic and ideological leadership. And (to me) legal professional and academic achievement seem to have a tendency to discount moderation and practicality in favor of strict adherence to a specific rigid ideology or judicial philosophy.

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Samprimary
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conservative friend: "I was against sotomayor until I read Karl Rove's article about her."

me: "how uh, does, how did that work?"

"well if you read an article by karl rove, you fact check it. If you fact check it, you see why it's full of crap. Then you get some real meat on the nominee. And, uh, the way things are, we could either get a fair pick that won't favor us, or an unfair pick that won't favor us. This is as good as we can hope for.

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scholarette
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I liked Harriet Miers. I figured she would have minimal influence on the court, which seemed like the least harm that would be done with a Bush pick.
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MrSquicky
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Senoj,
If I understand you, you don't think that understanding basics of constitutional law should be a bare minimum we should expect from Supreme Court nominees?

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