“I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity,” he said. “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”
This isn’t a new theme for him: Orin Kerr’s post from last February about The One’s rhetoric on judicial appointments caught him hitting this point in his campaign speeches repeatedly. Sotomayor was sufficiently conservative-ish to be named a federal district court judge by Bush 41. Frankly, we might be lucky if that’s as far left as he goes with the first pick.
Update: A fascinating procedural quirk on the replacement’s confirmation via scholar Michael Dorf: In order to push the nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrats need at least one Republican on the committee to approve the nominee. Specter normally would have been that one, but he’s a Democrat too now. Which means all eyes are on … Lindsey Graham.