An Unserious Candidate For A Serious Age (Updated)
posted at 3:00 pm on July 15, 2009 by Doctor Zero
Sonia Sotomayor has turned out to be an objectively poor choice for the Supreme Court. How is someone who looks like a fool under questioning from Republican Senators supposed to confront the most challenging legal issues of our time? A nominee who can make Lindsay Graham look like Stonewall Jackson is not A-list material.
Why did Obama choose her as his nominee? The obvious answer is that he found her judicial philosophy agreeable, and felt her race and sex would shield her from criticism during her confirmation hearings. Also, he hoped her nomination would firm up his support with Hispanic voters. This line of thinking, along with the childish behavior of Democrats at the confirmation hearings, highlights the fundamental lack of sobriety in their approach to the Supreme Court, among many other issues. These are unserious people, holding power in a serious age.
The moment in the Sotomayor hearings that best illustrates this point was Chuck Schumer’s strange ode to Nancy Drew novels as a formative influence on the nominee. This is like someone listing their World of Warcraft skills on their resume for a top executive position. If Sotomayor is also into “Star Wars,” she may be an even wiser Latina than we thought!
Conservatives often speak of their opposition to an “activist” Supreme Court, but the lightweight Sotomayor nomination suggests that liberals see the activist phase as largely completed. Their objective in selecting Court nominees has shifted to conserving the gains liberalism has already made. Neutralizing the Second Amendment was the last item on their Supreme Court wish list, and that seems to have moved out of reach. Their primary concern for justices now is preservation of the landmark court decisions that empower much of the liberal agenda. As long as a nominee can be relied upon to uphold decisions like Roe vs. Wade, there isn’t much else the Left needs from them any more.
This is why considerations of racial politics so obviously trumped judicial aptitude, and debating skills, in Sotomayor’s case. The Left needed judicial lions to construct the legal framework of post-Great Society liberalism. Now they’re willing to settle for kittens. Sotomayor will not be expected to write any brilliant opinions, or persuade her fellow justices to hunt for exciting new “rights” in the penumbras and emanations of the Constitution. It’s not a drawback that she has the judicial temperament of a Berkeley undergraduate, as long as she votes like one.
The judicial philosophy expressed by Sotomayor is defined by its lack of seriousness. Racialist judgments, like the infamous Ricci decision, are lazy and childish, because they relieve the judge of any need to understand the topic under consideration. It requires no knowledge of emergency services to decide that the paramount objective of a firefighter exam is to produce the proper number of black firefighters. To govern the world through politics, all you need to understand is politics. Liberals know the messy real-world consequences of their philosophy will never be allowed to come back and haunt them. The media is no more interested in telling the stories of the firefighters wronged by the Ricci decision, than they are in researching the people who filed all those bogus ethics complaints against Sarah Palin. The media would be even less interested in telling the stories of people who died because unqualified firefighters with politically-favored skin color botched a rescue.
The most offensive thing about Sotomayor’s notorious “wise Latina” comment is how painfully silly it was. We don’t need wise old grandmothers and grandfathers deciding court cases, much less sitting on the Supreme Court. We need people with the finely honed intelligence, humility, and discipline to fairly and impartially interpret our highest laws in difficult cases. Free people live under clear laws, administered with consistency. The cultural background of the judge should be no more relevant than the skin color of the plaintiff.
Sonia Sotomayor has wilted under polite, but direct, questioning from Republicans, while Democrats have treated her like the precocious winner of a third-grade talent contest. Her nomination is no more serious than the trillion-dollar fantasy of Obama’s health care scheme, or the expensive sop to bummer New Age religion imposed by his cap-and-trade bill.
Update: I posted the above article before learning about Sotomayor’s persistent confusion of basic legal terminology, and Al Franken using his (ahem) hard-won Senate seat to ask her about Perry Mason episodes. Consider these incidents as further evidence of my thesis. The country is supposedly in such dire straits that we must immediately pass sweeping, unconstitutional, economy-destroying legislation, without even pausing to read the thousand-page bills… but these jokers nominate a pathetically unqualified Supreme Court justice, then treat her like a sophomore applying for membership in a high-school social club.
Recently in the Green Room: