Video: Sotomayor in action

Eric Zimmerman has this clip from C-SPAN’s pre-nomination analysis of Sonia Sotomayor for The Hill, in response to some extent of Jeffrey Rosen’s article containing critical comments about her interpersonal skills. Rosen quoted legal sources about her unprofessional temperament:

Sotomayor can be tough on lawyers, according to those interviewed. “She is a terror on the bench.” “She is very outspoken.” “She can be difficult.” “She is temperamental and excitable. She seems angry.” “She is overly aggressive–not very judicial. She does not have a very good temperament.” “She abuses lawyers.” “She really lacks judicial temperament. She behaves in an out of control manner. She makes inappropriate outbursts.” “She is nasty to lawyers. She doesn’t understand their role in the system–as adversaries who have to argue one side or the other. She will attack lawyers for making an argument she does not like.”

One exchange doesn’t tell the whole story, and probably especially so in this case. Take a look at the questioning one lawyer gets in the appeal of Arar v. Ashcroft, dealing with rendition:

In my estimation, this doesn’t look remarkable at all. She cuts off the attorney in mid-response, but from the little I have seen in televised clips from appellate court hearings, that’s not terribly unusual. Justices like to ask tough questions, challenge attorneys with reductio ad absurdums to test their responses and the limits of their arguments, and sometimes scold the lawyers for making bad arguments and for a lack of preparation. It may not be pleasant, but that’s the manner in which these hearings get conducted.

Again, this is one example, and we’ll probably see more, but this doesn’t make the argument either way on Sotomayor’s temperament.

Update: Jeffrey Rosen, not James Rosen. My apologies.