Obama makes more history with Sotomayor nomination

The big news of the day is that President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the third woman to serve on the high court and the first Hispanic justice of either gender.

Sotomayor reportedly sealed the deal during her interview with the president last Thursday.

Deoliver47 has more background and video clips in this post.

Senate Republicans will try to drag out the confirmation process, but there will be no long-term vacancy on the high court. Justice David Souter has made clear that he will retire once his replacement is confirmed.

I don't know a lot about Sotomayor, but I look forward to learning more. She has the qualities I wanted to see in a Supreme Court nominee, even if she is not as progressive as I would like. At the SCOTUS blog, Tom Goldstein previewed arguments for and against her nomination. Excerpt:

Objectively, her qualifications are overwhelming from the perspective of ordinary Americans.  She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge.  No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience.

On the other hand, this criminal defense attorney who has argued cases before her court isn't too impressed.

On principle, I am glad that a hit piece on Sotomayor filled with anonymous quotes did not derail her nomination. More on that hit piece is here.

Before I open the floor for comments, here's some Supreme Court-related humor from The Onion.

What do you think of Obama's choice?

UPDATE: Greg Sargent points out that"Seven Republicans currently in the Senate voted for the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor in 1998 as U.S. Circuit Court judge[...]." That's not counting Arlen Specter, who also voted to confirm her in 1998 but is no longer a Republican.

SECOND UPDATE: Sports fans may remember that as a U.S. district court judge, Sotomayor ended the baseball strike in 1995.

Tags: Barack Obama, SCOTUS, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

I wanted Wood or Kagan

and, my heart of heart wanted Sullivan, just to watch the lemmings in the White Southern Conservative Party, oh, wait, I meant the Republican party, throw themselves into hysterics...

But, Sotomayor is fine with me; My take is, Obama gets one, two. maybe 3 more chances (I am trying to be a good boy, and maybe the universe will grant me a replacement for Antonin or Clarence...)

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-26 07:33AM | 0 recs
I was also hoping for Wood

but as you say, he probably will get at least one more chance, and possibly two or three more chances.

by desmoinesdem 2009-05-26 07:39AM | 0 recs
Seems like Jonathan Turley also wanted Wood

or Kagan, as a blazing intellectual to be the answer to Nino Scalia.

And, to outright a political animal, I think Obama would have really had some backlash from Latino Groups passing on Sotomayor for a white candidate, even a white woman.

So, Wood and Kagan have to wait, but my gut says ONE of them joins Sotomayor on the court.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-26 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Seems like Jonathan Turley also wanted Wood

The more I read of Scalia's opinions the more holes I see in them. He talks a good game but there are plenty of places where his reasoning is weak.

by MNPundit 2009-05-26 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Sotomayor nomination

I think we should not rush to predict how Sotomayor will develop as a Supreme Court justice.  I just finished reading Jeffrey Toobin's 'The Nine' which demonstrates how much justices change as they are absorbed by the culture of the court and the immensity of the decisions they make.  From the public record, which is essentially what we can all know right now, she sounds terrific to me.

by abouja 2009-05-26 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama makes more history

I wanted someone from outside the appellate courts, but aside from that she is a strong choice.

by JDF 2009-05-26 07:53AM | 0 recs
maybe next time

It wouldn't surprise me if Obama went that direction the next time he has a Supreme Court vacancy.

by desmoinesdem 2009-05-26 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama makes more history

Considering Sotomayor's lengthy record as a prosecutor, in private practice, and as a trial judge, it would be a shame if she were disqualified merely because she also has appellate experience on top of all that.

by Steve M 2009-05-26 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama makes more history

I agree with the sentiment, she is VERY qualified for the position. It is just my feeling that legal scholars who have not served in that capacity have been left off the court for so long. I would really like to see, at some point, see a choice that is off the beaten path a little bit.

by JDF 2009-05-26 10:06AM | 0 recs
Good NYT article that may indicate her direction

What's a Liberal Justice Now?

by RandomNonviolence 2009-05-26 08:10AM | 0 recs
Judicial Watch has weighed in...

And, you will be Shocked, Shocked I tell you to learn that Sotomayor is "an activist judge"....

Is there a more undefinable charge from the right wing hack world?

Works like this:

Any decision NOT conservative is "from an activist judge"...

My favorite use of it was when that judge (a conservative Republican) in Dover ruled against the school district in the Intelligent Design case, where he clearly used that fact this was a Religious backed decision, he was labeled "an activist judge" by the Discovery institute...

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-26 08:46AM | 0 recs
Among Hispanics

This is huge. Her selection is welcome news.  Let the GOP try and savage her. Her life story resonates among Hispanics. Frankly anyone who isn't impressed with the richness of her life is not human. If the GOP wants to lose Hispanics as a voting bloc, let them try and oppose her.

by Charles Lemos 2009-05-26 08:54AM | 0 recs
Go Large or Go Home

The Democratic party is , with this appointment, now officially the party of not larger government - or liberal government.

But rather the party of Smart government.
Competency in a President is a welcome change of pace for our country. We had better be careful, or we might end up giving public service a good name.

Gratz Obama!

by Trey Rentz 2009-05-26 09:00AM | 0 recs
two big newseseseses

Big news of the day x 2:

1. Sotomayor
2. CA. Court upholds that rights can be taken away through the ballot box.

by mikeinsf 2009-05-26 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re:

The GOP has already lost Florida (and other states') Hispanics at an alarming rate, so much so that there seems to be basically no way to regain a portion of them unless the GOP makes a complete 180 degree reversal on their fiercely anti-immigration policy stances.  Since such a drastic change is obviously not in the cards for at least another decade the prospects for Republicans in states like Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and other states with growing Hispanic populations will continue to become weaker and weaker.  

Politically speaking, selecting Sotomayor was as close to a perfect, genius move as one can think of.  The historical aspect of the nomination will align Hispanics even closer to Obama and by default the Democratic party, all but assuring further gains for Democrats in states with high and growing Hispanic populations.  But if that wasn't already enough, the sure to come nomination "battle" with the party of NO fighting against confirmation will chase even more Hispanics from the Republican party.

Fighting the nomination will also further chase Independents away, because all they have to hear is that Sotomayor was nominated to the lower court by former president Republican George H.W. Bush and sailed through Senate approval with a large majority, making it all too obvious that the motivation behind opposing the candidate now is purely political grandstanding and opposition for opposition's sake.

Best outcome:

1. Making history: First Hispanic on the SC.

  1. Another woman to provide a baby step towards some semblance of balance.
  2. Pleases a pivotal voting block, which endears the administration to them even further.
  3. Republicans are stuck opposing a historic appointment of a strongly qualified candidate at their long-lasting peril with most "sane" Americans.

Break out the popcorn for this one, but there is no question that Democrats will be strongly helped by this selection while Republicans will go down even more (unless they approve the nomination without a fight.)  For the Democrats, politically that is where you want to be as a party and as the administration.  

by devilrays 2009-05-26 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re:

Amen.  Refreshing doesn't begin to describe the experience of seeing the Republicans in disarray and berating one another for failing to conform to even greater stupidities.  Part of this is just good luck, to be sure, but part of it is due to sound strategic thinking that some progressives denied possible about a year or so ago.

But never mind, the harvest is in and the Republicans are reaping what they have sown.  At this rate they'll have plenty of time to rebuild their party, the pieces are laying all around them; though I'm guessing they are missing a few bits, and have a few too many nuts and loose screws.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-26 08:57PM | 0 recs
Health Care

And, let's admit, it will take ALL his political capital to even more SLIGHTLY towards a change in health care dominated by the Corporate Health Industrial Complex....

I know we have posters that wail about single payer, and always want to attack Obama, instead of the Senate, that is going to be the TRUE battle ground for any change in the entrenched corporate US health care system.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-26 10:07AM | 0 recs
I'm Deoliver47 over at DKos

thanks for linking to my diary.

by NeciVelez 2009-05-26 10:23AM | 0 recs
Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Are we forgetting Benjamin Cardozo? He was the first Hispanic justice.

Not sure why everyone is so willing to forget that fact. Are we so history deficient?

by cuppajoe 2009-05-26 05:18PM | 0 recs
Well he was Portuguese

"Hispanic" has become defined as Latin America; Central America, Carribbean and South America.

But you're right.

by DTOzone 2009-05-26 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

No one considers that hispanic. i have seen thses sorts of statement on legal blogs by conservatives.

by bruh3 2009-05-26 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

By "no one" who do you mean?

Since when do you become the arbiter of what anyone/everyone thinks?

Whatever you may imagine the current definition of Hispanic is, just exactly what do you think Americans of Spanish or Portuguese heritage think of themselves as being. (Yes, the "popular" conception of what it means to be a Hispanic may have devolved to Latin American heritage only but just because something is popular doesn't make it right or correct.)

Spain, the Spanish/Portuguese peninsula, the heritage that arises from that place  -- that's where the term Hispanic comes from. So I guess anyone on or from that Spanish/Portuguese peninsula can rightfully call themselves Hispanic as well as people from those countries to which the Spanish and Portuguese immigrated.

So, tell me again who you mean when you say "No one considers that Hispanic" And since when do we refer to a person as "that"?

by cuppajoe 2009-05-26 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

As in Domincans, Puerto Ricans and multiple other friends I have who are Hispanic in background. I asked them what they thought of this assertion. Most of them are highly educated, and know their backgroun on an academic level. They laughed. I will leave it at that.

by bruh3 2009-05-26 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Your sample doesn't constitute "everyone" -- it's just anecdotal information and a poll comprised of your friends. Just because they "believe" something or think something is laughable doesn't change reality.

The facts are the facts. The opinions of your friends are just that.

We can leave it at that.

by cuppajoe 2009-05-27 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Short and sweet: You are a random guy online telling me that my friends who are academics are wrong. More than that, another poster, Charles, has given you teh history that says you are wrong. Feel free to talk as much as you like. I think you are wrong based on both what I know from my friends and what Charles has reinforced from my conversations with them.

by bruh3 2009-05-27 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

by the way, I also asked a Cuban friend on the subject. He also thought it was inaccurate, and he does not tend to agree with my Domican and PR friends on much of anything regarding cultural issues.

by bruh3 2009-05-26 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Well, I guess that settles it then. Not!

by cuppajoe 2009-05-27 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Cardozo was of Portuguese (and Jewish) ancestry. That makes him a Lusitanian but not a Hispanic. The Lusitanians are an ancient Iberic people that lived in present day Portugal. Hispania, which means land of rabbits, refers to the north central part of the Iberian peninsula.

Cardozo since he was Jewish is thus also a Sephardic. To be Hispanic, one must speak Spanish as a native tongue. Hence the Galicians (Gallegos), the Basques, the Catalans or Valencians aren't considered Hispanics.

In the US, the term Hispanic seems to encompass anyone from Ibero-America but it shouldn't. Brazilians are not Hispanics. The term in Latin America is not a racial one but rather a linguistic one. For example the word in Spanish for Spanish speaker is hispanoparlante. A Portuguese speaker is lusoparlante.

No doubt, the term in the US is morphing into a racial one but in Latin America the racial terms are criollo, mestizo, blanco, indio, zambo, mulatto, negro. Thus Hugo Chavez who is a zambo, and Evo Morales who is an indio and Alvaro Uribe who is a blanco are all hispanos. Then again so is King Juan Carlos.

by Charles Lemos 2009-05-26 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't Forget Benjamin Cardozo

Good disquisition on this point.

It is my understanding that the reason Latins are called Latins is because their language originally derived from Latin -- which no matter how you dice it, includes Portuguese. This is why Italians used to be called Latins and the French and others as well. The term changed over the years and is doing so again -- but it is losing something in all of those changes.

The term is indeed morphing once again -- not to encompass/create a race (we are all just one race anyway, we just come in different flavors) but to include only those people who come from a limited geographical area rather than a linguistic group.

That Cardozo was Jewish makes him no less a person of the Hispanic peninsula but even more interesting -- and he had a similar family story to that of Sotomayor -- losing a parent early, being raised by a slightly older sister, going on through the legal system to eventually be appointed to the Supreme Court.

What I find distressing is that some people just want to forget history and act as if everything is new (or a first) with the rising of the sun each day.

The fact that our history includes a Cardozo doesn't take anything away from Sotomayor's appointment.

She will sail through the process and take her place on the court.

by cuppajoe 2009-05-26 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Sotomayor nomina

I am good with this pick. The crazy right wingers are attacking her a lot. I have seen that video from her speaking about her background influencing her multiple times on multiple sites. I just hope Obama holds strong. Most of their attacks against her are not only offensive such as attacking her as Latina, but also wrong (pretending Scalia's backgroound, for example, does not influence him). I know for a fact that his background does influence him.

by bruh3 2009-05-26 05:40PM | 0 recs

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