May 26, 2009

4 reasons I'm glad Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor.

1. Finally, a Supreme Court Justice with a [last] name longer than 3 syllables. (Thanks to downtownlad for noting the possible distinction and my son John Althouse Cohen for confirming it.)

2. Finally, a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice... and we won't have to keep talking about how some day there ought to be a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

3. We'll get back to the historical high water mark of women on the Court. Wow! To hit 2 again!

4. Jeffrey Rosen gets his comeuppance.

CORRECTION: James Taranto on #1:
Blogress Ann Althouse claims that Sotomayor will be the first justice with a four-syllable last name and credits her son for confirming this. But it isn't true. John Althouse Cohen apparently is too young to remember Justice Willis Van Devanter.
I'll bet John thought his middle name was Van.

47 comments:

AllenS said...

Sotomayor immersed herself in Nancy Drew books and spent hours watching Perry Mason on television, and knew she wanted to be a judge by the age of 10 after being inspired by a Perry Mason episode that ended with the camera settling on the robed sage.

"I realized that the judge was the most important player in that room," Sotomayor said in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press.

Well, there you have it. Could this be the 5th reason why it is such a good pick? Even more important than 3 syllables?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Since her legal skills don't seem to be as important as her ethnicity or gender why not go with a babe and just nominate Selma Hayek?

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

Recall that one of the reasons Scalia sailed through the Senate because he was an Italian American. Seems crazy now, that it would be so novel to have an Italian on the Supreme Court.

How long will it be before everyone forgets this whole "Hispanic on the Court" business? I think not long. Hardly anyone I know now even cares or notices.

James said...

First Hispanic? Wasn't Benjamin Cardozo Hispanic?

AJ Lynch said...

Selma Hayek gets my vote and then we must get rid of the black robes.

veni vidi vici said...

Notwithstanding whatever virtues she may possess, someone that “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 exactly the kind of bigot that shouldn't be on the Supreme Court.

Diamondhead said...

5. Latina
6. Female
7. Puerto Rican
8. Female Puerto Rican

elHombre said...

Echoing veni, vedi...:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life. -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor, from the Bronx, deep in the heart of Latin America, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001

Better than a latino male? Any male? Any non-latino?

Hope. Change. Sexism. Racism. Let's hear it for "the Great Unifier!"

Hoosier Daddy said...

Veni, it's taken me some time to finally accept the fact that it's ok to be bigoted against white males.

As I said before, it's an imperfect world.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Finally, a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice... and we won't have to keep talking about how some day there ought to be a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

Being Hispanic didn't seem important enough to put Miguel Estrada on the Supreme Court. Why so important for Sonia Sotomayor?

Maybe because only liberal Hispanics are worthy nominees. Or maybe the Hispanic part is just a cover used to promote this particular liberal nominee.

White liberal, again, determining who is "authentic". Bah.

Big Mike said...

Well, Professor, you're probably going to send an FU response to me for writing this, but I've never seen four more trite reasons for picking a particular person for anything than the four you list -- and I don't much like Jeffery Rosen either.

What are your criteria for a good justice, what in her judicial rulings and writings suggests that she would meet those criteria, and, finally, are there counterindications in her rulings and writings that would suggest the contrary

I don't need to check into a blog run by a Con Law professor to find out that the Sonia Sotomayor is a female Hispanic. I'd like to ask the Con Law professor whether she's likely to be any good?

Skyler said...

Why should it be important to "finally" have a Puerto Rican justice? That would seem to be a bigoted belief system.

It's her ideas that matter, not where her parents are from.

This is one of the least consequential picks in a long time. A whacky liberal is being replaced with an even whackier liberal. Ho hum. No changes expected in court decisions.

EnigmatiCore said...

It is a shame that none of the reasons you listed are "she's an outstanding jurist and brilliant legal mind" or "she's obviously the most qualified."

bearbee said...

re: name with more than 3 syllables, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, or do middle names not count?

AllenS said...

If minority status and diversity are such attributes, why not look for, and nominate a veteran?

Wade Garrett said...

James - Benjamin Cardozo was a Sephardic Jew of Portugese extraction.

rhhardin said...

I take it appointing favored groups to appeals courts is justified as opportunity.

The last step can't be justified as opportunity though, except opportunity to screw up everything.

Jeremy said...

I imagine that folks (not to name names) came up with a similar list in voting for Barak Obama:

1) Funny name! I love funny names!

2) Finally, a black President ... and we won't have to keep talking about how some day there ought to be a black President.

3) Always wanted a President from Hawaii.

4) Dick Cheney gets his comeuppance.

Seems legit to me!

-The Other Jeremy

Wade Garrett said...

Skyler - I don't think Sotomayor is that liberal - she was originally appointed to the district court by President Bush, Orrin Hatch supported her, her stance on abortion is that the Federal government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position if it so chooses. What makes her so liberal, other than the fact that Rush Limbaugh told you to think that way?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd like to ask the Con Law professor whether she's likely to be any good?"

This wasn't intended to be that kind of post, but yes, I think she is likely to be very good.

MadisonMan said...

"she's an outstanding jurist and brilliant legal mind" or "she's obviously the most qualified."

I don't think a most qualified candidate for the Supreme Court exists. There is a top tier of candidates, each with strengths and weaknesses.

I think most -- not all -- recent candidates are outstanding jurists with brilliant legal minds. You wouldn't get to a position of nomination if you were not. But outstanding and brilliant are purely subjective adjectives.

jimbino said...

So what was the field in which Sonia Sotomayor took her B.A. degree at Princeton? I know it won't turn out to be anything substantive like math, physics, or engineering.

Yet another scientifically illiterate Roman Catholic on SCOTUS! So much for "diversity."

veni vidi vici said...

Taking a crazy shine on Diamond's continuing list:

9. Doesn't shower regularly
10. Reekin' Female

Lem said...

Being Hispanic didn't seem important enough to put Miguel Estrada on the Supreme Court.

Miguel Estrada was nominated (and filibustered) for a lower court of appeals, not the Supreme Court.

elHombre said...

What the Republicans ought to do is select a few of her numerous activist, sexist, racist public statements, quote them, characterize her accordingly, and vote to confirm her.

Their focus should remain on Obama as a divisive, radical, identity politician, whose appointments and conduct continue to reflect his contempt for compromise and a unified, America committed to constitutional rule.

Attack Obama, not her. Rosen has already turned her into a martyr.

ricpic said...

Finally a Hispanic; finally two women on the Court: clearly certain forms of prejudice are more equal than other forms of prejudice.

William said...

I don't think there are many white males who have an overwhelming bias against Hispanic females. More the opposite. She may have overcome many obstacles, but I don't think racial bias was one of them.

elHombre said...

P.S. to 10:28 comment. Actually, Republicans should abstain rather than vote to confirm.

Lem said...

..historical high water mark of women on the Court.

I’ve heard of water volleyball and water soccer but water tennis?
Must be a new thing.

Oh.. water basketball? water basketball?

Oh that is sooo racist ;)

John Althouse Cohen said...

If minority status and diversity are such attributes, why not look for, and nominate a veteran?

I believe there are currently 3 Supreme Court justices with significant military experience. There are no Hispanic justices. There's already "diversity" as far as veterans.

Speaking of veterans on the Supreme Court, those who reacted negatively to Obama's comments on "empathy" might be interested to read Richard Posner's observations (in his new book How Judges Think) about veteran justices' voting patterns. Even though the veterans are a mix of liberal and conservative, they sometimes vote together in divided decisions that affect veterans. (I don't have the book with me, or I'd give the cite.)

former law student said...

It is a shame that none of the reasons you listed are "she's an outstanding jurist and brilliant legal mind" or "she's obviously the most qualified."

It's a shame Republicans didn't think of that when nominating Clarence Thomas.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I think most -- not all -- recent candidates are outstanding jurists with brilliant legal minds. You wouldn't get to a position of nomination if you were not.

Then you must have meant to say all-- not most.

Richard Dolan said...

Two women - one more than the most endangered species on the SCOTUS (males of the WASP persuasion).

Now we'll have six current/former Catholics (2 Irish, 2 Italian, 1 Af-Am, 1 H), two Jews and one Protestant. Five attended HLS (Ginsburg started there); three YLS; one Columbia LS (Ginsburg finished there). The only justice not to graduate from an Ivy was Stevens (he's Chicago and N'western LS). All of them have spent most or all of their careers in government; not a single entrepreneur in the bunch. Not one of them ever had to make a payroll.

Finally - a court that looks like America! Just the place that any sensible person would want "policy to be made."

Oh, wait.

Skyler said...

What makes her so liberal, other than the fact that Rush Limbaugh told you to think that way?

I've never heard Limbaugh discuss her, but she was described as a liberal by NPR this morning. Such a characterization means she is quite the whacked out liberal if NPR even calls her one.

Modern Otter said...

I believe it's S-a-l-m-a

Hoosier Daddy said...

I believe it's S-a-l-m-a.

Sorry. I'm too busy staring at her breasts to be bothered with how to spell her name ;-)

MnMark said...

1960s blacks, hispanics, and women: "We just want to by judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin or our gender."

1960s white liberals: "There is no such thing as race. Gender differences don't exist except in trivial reproductive ways."


2000s blacks, hispanics, and women: "Judge me on the color of my skin and my gender, because being a hispanic or a woman makes me better qualified to be a judge than a white male. And only a bi-racial person can truly be the President of ALL of America."

2000s white liberals: "We'll just temporarily set aside the idea that race and gender don't matter and choose some minorities and women for positions they wouldn't get strictly based on their merits. That will show minorities and women that we are good people. Then they will feel satisfied, and we will all be able to start judging strictly on the basis of qualifications and not these irrelevant racial and gender measures."


2040s blacks and hispanics: "We were slaves for hundreds of years. It's only fair that whites be slaves for at least that long. Besides, it is permitted under sharia, which the Supreme Court has ruled is an 'international body of law' that should be taken into consideration."

2040s white liberals: "This is just temporary. If we let them enslave us for a while it will show good faith and they'll see how sorry we are and then in the future our grandchildren will surely be judged on their character instead of invalid racial and gender characteristics."

avwh said...

“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.”..turn that around and see how ridiculous and bigoted it sounds:

"I would hope that a white male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a wise Latina woman who hasn’t lived that life".

Identity politics: on the slippery slope to the death of our republic.

Kensington said...

""It is a shame that none of the reasons you listed are "she's an outstanding jurist and brilliant legal mind" or "she's obviously the most qualified.""

It's a shame Republicans didn't think of that when nominating Clarence Thomas."
They did, he is, and he was.

Big Mike said...

If the goal was to nominate a Latina then why not Kim McLane Wardlaw? Is the problem that her name is insufficiently Hispanic? Certainly she's right on Redding v Safford.

The point of nominating Sotomayor was to pick a fight. Time to give Mr. Obama one.

Randy said...

Reason #4 is my favorite. Partisans in both camps are already busy reversing their long-held positions about "affirmative action" judicial appointments. It will be hard for them to hide their two-decade-long vilification or defense of Clarence Thomas but I am sure all will do their best.

joewxman said...

While i am not a huge fan of her's i have to step away from making comments as she went to my high school (Cardinal Spellman H.S. Bronx N.Y.). I have to be a little proud and biased!

PatCA said...

1-3 pretty much boil down to identity politics.

rhhardin said...

KFI (Los Angeles) Gary Hoffman (real audio) reports that Sotomayor graduated summa cum loud from Princeton.

That's probably her assertiveness.

John Althouse Cohen said...

re: name with more than 3 syllables, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, or do middle names not count?

If we're using full names, I think Sotomayor still has the most syllables of any nominee. According to Wikipedia, her full name is Sonia MarĂ­a de Sotomayor y Ruiz de Orellana!

kentuckyliz said...

I think the litmus test should change. It's not about Roe v Wade any more. It's about Kelo.

Will the justice side with the little people (property owners), or the aspirational greedy government that requires increased revenues to fund its grandiose schemes?

That is probably Obama's major litmus test for the candidate, because he has a large snarling dog in that fight.

Does anyone know where SortaMeiers stand on Kelo?

10ksnooker said...

And number four, every Supreme Court needs it's Constitutional dunce.

Maybe she could tell us what races are the best judges in descending order.