Sotomayor introduction lacking in substance

So President Barack Obama has nominated a liberal woman judge to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter on the nation’s highest court. Clearly no surprise there. A careful analysis of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial record will follow in a few days, but first, allow me to offer comment on yesterday’s public event at the White House at which the president formally announced his choice of Judge Sotomayor.

One of the first interesting things to note was the presence, for no apparent reason, of Vice President Joe Biden at the ceremony. Importantly, the veep said nothing audible to those present, and if the president and his staff are smart, they will do everything in their power to keep Biden from saying anything about the judge and the confirmation process until she is sworn in, robed, and ensconced in her office in the Supreme Court Building.

The president’s remarks in introducing Sotomayor were remarkable for what they did not say as well as for what he emphasized. Completely lacking was any reference, other than in passing, to the criteria most important for a nominee to sit on the High Court. The president’s remarks contained nothing about the judge’s views of such vitally important matters as will certainly color her decisions as a Supreme Court Justice if confirmed — her understanding of the Constitution, of the concepts of separation of powers and limited powers, and of judicial limits, were left unmentioned.

What we did discover in the president’s effusive introductory comments is that Judge Sotomayor had a tough childhood in the Bronx, has a wonderful mother, has had a solid career in the practice of the law, read “Nancy Drew” mysteries as a child, suffers from diabetes, and has a “common touch.” All this is perhaps interesting, and might even be of passing relevance were the president introducing the new secretary of health and human services. But these bits of information — other than discussion of the nominee’s legal career — are irrelevant (or ought to be) in determining whether a person is fit to serve on the highest court in the land.

The president attempted somewhat awkwardly to interject humor into what should have been a serious event; referencing baseball twice — first in referring to Judge Sotomayor’s role in a case involving the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike, and then drawing attention to the fact she grew up near Yankee stadium in the Bronx. Again, information utterly irrelevant to what should have been the task at hand.

All this was followed by an admonition by Obama that the Senate conclude the confirmation process before its summer recess. The implied message is, why take time to uncover additional information or analyze Judge Sotomayor’s prior works, when the president has told us everything he believes is important in selecting a Supreme Court justice.

Except, of course — we haven’t been told even close to what we need to know to decide whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor is truly and fully qualified in intellect, temperment and understanding of the law to serve on the Supreme Court for the remainder of her life, and to pass judgement on perhaps the most intimate aspects of our life in America. We have been told, quite irrelevantly, that she is possessed of “empathy” for the “poor.” What we don’t know yet is whether her empathy with the Constitution is as profound.

75 comments Add your comment


May 27th, 2009
9:23 am

I smell sour grapes here, BB. The attributes and history you claim to be ‘irrelevant’ should be given the same weight as any legal or scholastic accomplishment this woman has earned.

Or perhaps you would prefer our court nominees to be products from IBM? I guess we’ll have to wait til the neocons get back in power before we see ‘Hal 9000′ on the bench.


May 27th, 2009
9:35 am

Gee, an introductory speech for a public official used general terms and humanizing touches.

I, too, am horrified. (rolling eyes)


May 27th, 2009
9:41 am

The point Bob is making is that the most important thing a Nominee for the SC should possess is a deep understanding of the Constitution, not whether she is a baseball fan or not. I could give a hang about her personally, I want to know her judicial philosophy. More fluff (change) from the President. Yawn.


May 27th, 2009
9:45 am

The most important attribute for a judge on the Supreme Court is that they understand the Constitution and the law, and they are willing to judge based on the law as is, not on their “feelings” or “empathy.” It shouldn’t matter whether she feels someone’s pain, so long as she follows the law correctly. But Obama specifically said that’s not what he wants. What he wants is a judge that ignores the law in favor of their feelings and empathy, and that’s what he got. Too bad, we’ll soon find her ignoring law and the plain words of the Constitution to do what “feels” right to her.


May 27th, 2009
10:18 am

That’s an awfully big pile of assumptions to build up off of… well, nothing, really.

Her qualifications and experience are well known. If you have something of substance to criticize, then please offer it! So far, all we’re hearing is generic hysteria simply because she’s Obama’s nominee.

Try again

May 27th, 2009
10:28 am

Sorry Bob. The President didn’t say what you wanted because he wants the “process” to take place. It didn’t matter what he did or didn’t say. The fact that Biden was there and didn’t say anything is nothing more than a show of full support fo rthe nominee. Obama is well aware of the process and repsects it. find something else to gripe about! It really is the job of the Senate to “find out” what they want, not for Obama to tell them what you “want” to hear.


May 27th, 2009
10:35 am

Simply another “ends justifies the means” liberal. Shhe is willing to create law from the bench whenever it suits her idea of fairness. As a result – 5 cases she ruled on were sent to SCOTUS appeal and 3 of were overturned. She has a 6th in front of them and it too is almost certain to get shot down. She is an abomination to the rule of law and the constitution.

“Because it is – Court of Appeals is where policy is made,” she said. “And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don’t ‘make law,’ I know. [Laughter from audience] Okay, I know. I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it. I’m…you know.

FC Crusher

May 27th, 2009
10:48 am


Some facts please to support your assertion that she is “Simply another “ends justifies the means” liberal…willing to create law from the bench whenever it suits her idea of fairness.” And I’m not sure if you know this but when a judge has 3 cases overturned out of over 300 rulings it’s hard to say that she has been some shoot from the hip rule from feelings justice.

On second thought I suppose I should have said it’s hard to say that when you speak from an intellectually honest position rather than preconceived ideology.

So how about those facts?


May 27th, 2009
11:15 am

Hey Jon,
I have a NEWSFLASH for you. Try to keep up… The Supreme Court only
takes cases it MAY overturn. If it agrees with the lower court ruling,
the Supreme Court DOES NOT take the case and lets the lower court decision stand. Go back to school, Jon and get an education.A basic civics class will teach you.


May 27th, 2009
11:17 am

P.S. More than 75% of cases the SCOTUS hears are OVERTURNED.


May 27th, 2009
11:23 am

Bob, wouldn’t his emphasis on her vast experience as a sitting judge suffice. She has more experience than any of the other sitting justices had at their nomination. Actually Obama is smart not to infer that their are litmus test viewpoints held by this nominee.

Furthermore, the president never stated that he wants her to “ignore” the law. Many jurists temper the law with compassion in a way that adheres to existing law. Also what is wrong with a decision that is framed properly within the law that takes into consideration the effect that it has on the lives of people.

This woman was first placed on the federal bench by a republican. There is absolutely nothing in her judicial record that could classify her as a “leftist” or “activist” judge. It appears that most dissenters are from the far right fringes of the republican party that considers anyone even slightly left of their wacked out viewpoints a “leftist” or “liberal”. The woman is clearly a moderate. Of course to the lunatic fringe moderate is unacceptable too. But who really cares what that 20% and their postulating, prostlytizing, drug addicted potentate, Rush Limbaugh thinks anyway


May 27th, 2009
11:29 am

Actually she has had 40% of her cases overturned! Not such a good record. And she thinks being a female, Latino makes her more qualified than others. I have a problem with the attitude. Also we have had a Latino on the court about 70 years ago and Judge Thomas grew up very poor and made a success of his life. There are many such stories in America.


May 27th, 2009
11:32 am

It is going to be so much fun watching the self destructive element with the republican party try to disparage this woman. Especially when they can’t come right out and say that their main objection to her is that she is Latina and that in itself disrupts what they see as the natural order of things. They want to continue the tradition of men, particularly white ones, having the last word on rulings that have impact on the lives of women and minorities.

FC Crusher

May 27th, 2009
11:37 am


So what you are saying is that in your vast research you found that of her 360+ decisions she has had 144 of them overturned.

Are you sure???? (Hint: you’re dead wrong. Read more, listen and regurgitate your heroes less.)


May 27th, 2009
11:40 am

Ten Things To Know About Judge Sonia Sotomayor

1. Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the bench than any Supreme Court justice in 100 years. Over her three-decade career, she has served in a wide variety of legal roles, including as a prosecutor, litigator, and judge.

2. Judge Sotomayor is a trailblazer. She was the first Latina to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was the youngest member of the court when appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York. If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

3. While on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has consistently protected the rights of working Americans, ruling in favor of health benefits and fair wages for workers in several cases.

4. Judge Sotomayor has shown strong support for First Amendment rights, including in cases of religious expression and the rights to assembly and free speech.

5. Judge Sotomayor has a strong record on civil rights cases, ruling for plaintiffs who had been discriminated against based on disability, sex and race.

6. Judge Sotomayor embodies the American dream. Born to Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in a South Bronx housing project and was raised from age nine by a single mother, excelling in school and working her way to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University and to become an editor of the Law Journal at Yale Law School.

7. In 1995, Judge Sotomayor “saved baseball” when she stopped the owners from illegally changing their bargaining agreement with the players, thereby ending the longest professional sports walk-out in history.

8. Judge Sotomayor ruled in favor of the environment in a case of protecting aquatic life in the vicinity of power plants in 2007, a decision that was overturned by the Roberts Supreme Court.

9. In 1992, Judge Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate without opposition after being appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush.

10. Judge Sotomayor is a widely respected legal figure, having been described as “…an outstanding colleague with a keen legal mind,” “highly qualified for any position in which wisdom, intelligence, collegiality and good character would be assets,” and “a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity.”

Saul Good

May 27th, 2009
11:43 am

Yeah…this “liberal” judge that Daddy Bush put into her current position. Sad that most (if not ALL) rethuglicans don’t even know that. All they/you care about is that Obama selected her. If this same woman was selected by either Bush for the SC…you’d be happy.

She gained her “power” as to her current position because of papa Bush. WHY?! Becaues she’s FAIR and HONEST… unlike say a “TRUE ACTIVIST JUDGE” like the “former” judge…Roy Moore.

I’m SURE many of you talibangelicals would like to have him on the bench of the SC… You know…that guy from Alabama who was thrown off the bench because he wanted to turn the US into a theocracy that is EXACTLY like the Taliban did!


May 27th, 2009
11:51 am

So oldtimer, can you tell us exactly what it is she said that indicates that she thinks being Latina and female makes her more qualified? Is she a little too “uppity” for you oldtimer? Is it not a good thing to have diverse life experiences on a court that impacts the lives of all people as long as the final decision is based on sound law.


May 27th, 2009
12:01 pm

Saul Good, that crowd of Limbaugh lunatics would be dancing in the streets if that lackey Antonio Gonzales had been nominated by GWB. Thank God Souter waited until Dubya was gone to retire. You don’t think he did that on purpose do you?

Chris Broe

May 27th, 2009
12:08 pm

For pete’s sake. Will someone inform Bob Barr whether this nominee wears boxers or briefs so he’ll stfu?


May 27th, 2009
1:00 pm

Of course most of her opinions that have gone to the Supreme Court have been overturned…the Supreme Court ONLY hears cases which are likely to be overturned.

The Snark

May 27th, 2009
1:04 pm

I’m sorry, did I miss something? I thought the main concern here was whether the nominee was qualified. I didn’t realize that we were supposed to be critiquing the President’s introduction. Thanks for setting our priorities straight, Bob.

professional skeptic

May 27th, 2009
1:16 pm

My first impression is that she seems more qualified than Harriet Meyers.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 27th, 2009
1:23 pm

The republicans have had plenty of opportunity to nominate conservative judges. W got two on the bench but daddy Bush and Reagan both got it wrong. This nomination should come to no surprise to anyone because we all knew Obama Hussein would nominate far left judges.

On a softer note, Obama and the democrats are bankrupting the United States at record pace. North Korea may launch a nuke at us and GM is now 70% owned by the democrat party.



May 27th, 2009
1:51 pm

How does one join a militia? It sounds like war is coming!


May 27th, 2009
1:56 pm

RetLTC: I think she will use her minority status to promote more minority status by making policy on the bench and not interpret the laws and the constitution as the supreme court justices were invisioned to do by my forefathers.

I really think there are white males that could do a better job than she can, hey she brought of the subject.


May 27th, 2009
2:06 pm

WILLIAM AT 11:40 – here is item 11 – the judge had her decisions overturned by the supremes 60% of the time


May 27th, 2009
2:07 pm

With all this talk about empathy, I have to ask, “What about empathy for all of us hardworking, law abiding citizens?”


May 27th, 2009
2:08 pm

It would be humorous if it weren’t so sad, BB opines that he wants more substance than fluff, so he can make an informed decision, and the LL’s (lefty lemmings) state his complaint should have substance??? So you want substance from somebody paid to opine, but demand no such credibility from a SC Justice. But then again we should not be surprised POTUS was elected in exactly the same manner.


May 27th, 2009
2:18 pm

Ben @ 9:45 am – Good assessment. I’d say the #1 role of a SCOTUS Justice is total adherence to the Constitution (in ALL their rulings/decisions). From what I’ve seen/read so far, Sotomayor appears to be another cultural Marxist oligarch who plans to “legislate” from the bench. That being said, I’m not surprised at such an appointee from Globalist puppet “Bacrock Obuma”.


May 27th, 2009
2:42 pm

CNN went on and on (glowingly, of course) this afternoon about Sotomayor’s ‘environmental positions’. Sadly, these ‘journalists’ don’t seem to realize that a Supreme Court justice isn’t supposed to have ‘environmental positions’… her job is to review cases and interpret The Law as it stands and apply that to the case in front of her. If she wants to be an Environmentalist, get a recycling bin like the rest of us.


May 27th, 2009
2:44 pm

Obama did not take much time in selecting this probable SC Judge.I hope his vetting is better on this than 5 of his cabinet appointees, re. tax problems. Also O. could not introduce this probable SC Judge without his teleprompter. GAD. No one mentioned her ruling on the Connecticut firemen, where she came down on the side on the minorities, when that was not right nor fair.


May 27th, 2009
3:17 pm

FC Crusher – “so what about facts”????

Seems to me pointing out her track record in front of the SCOTUS, which is soon almost certain to include a 4th overturned ruling qualifies as facts. Yes I do know the SCOTUS is inclined to hear cases that carry a liklihood of being overturned.

I also provided a direct quote from her regarding the Court of Appeals being the place for policy making.

But honestly take her current New Haven decision in front of the SCOTUS. The decision is a brutal example of reverse discrimination (if not outright racism).

Liberals of course would never categorize this case as a classic abuse of power because they, like her, see it as another potential “ends justifies the means” political victory.


May 27th, 2009
3:43 pm

And if all applicants were screened through a “skin color evaluator” and it turned out only the white guys passed? Would that be a reason to accept the results of THAT test in deciding who to promote?

Of course not. Her ruling simply noted that a biased, flawed test was being used, and its results are therefore invalid to the promotion process.

And yes, appeals courts (and the Supreme Courts) ARE places where policy is made. Are you saying you didn’t already know that? Is your basic education in civics THAT lacking?

Michael H. Smith

May 27th, 2009
4:24 pm

“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,” said Judge Sotomayor

Now reverse that statement as follows:

I would hope that a wise white Anglo male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a brown Latino woman who hasn’t lived that life. said Judge White Guy

Do you think if a white male judge from any court in this land had ever made that statement in his lifetime that he would still be under consideration at this moment to sit on the bench of the highest court of this land?

I’d be the first one to say get rid of that Supreme Omnipotent Bigot, right now!

This nominee should be withdrawn from consideration. The President’s introduction is the least of what is lacking.

jim d

May 27th, 2009
4:33 pm

Troubling is Sotomayor’s record on the Second Amendment. This past January, the Second Circuit issued its opinion in Maloney v. Cuomo, which Sotomayor joined, ruling that the Second Amendment does not apply against state and local governments.

jim d

May 27th, 2009
4:35 pm

And this from Dave Kopel’s October 2008 article in NRA’s America’s First Freedom magazine:

According to Sotomayor, “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right.” (U.S. v. Sanchez-Villar, 2004).

sane jane

May 27th, 2009
4:43 pm

If the White Anglo Male was opining on how hard it is to get a tee time at the Club on Saturday mornings, I might understand.

Just like I might be inclined to give a Latina female from the projects a bit of slack when it comes to matters of abortion. A topic sensitive enough that rich white men and poor brown females might actually arrive at different conclusions. Even with access to the same information.

jim d

May 27th, 2009
4:44 pm

I look for some tough confirmation questions regarding the 2nd amendment.

Sotomayor, has decided few controversial constitutional cases. The thinness of her constitutional record may draw senatorial attention to a recent per curium opinion in which she and two other 2nd Circuit Court judges held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms – recently declared an individual right by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller – does not apply to the states.

The panel makes what superficially appears to be a strong argument: the Supreme Court directly held in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886) that the Second Amendment does not bind the states, it reasoned, and lower courts are obligated to follow even antiquated SCOTUS precedent if it is directly on point.

What the panel missed, however, was the significance of the fact that Presser was decided before the development of modern incorporation doctrine, which applies most of the bill of rights to the states through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Presser court therefore addressed only the issue of whether the Second Amendment applies to the states directly, and did not consider the question of whether the Second Amendment is incorporated by the 14th Amendment.


May 27th, 2009
4:46 pm


Sit down and drink your kool-aid.

sane jane

May 27th, 2009
4:49 pm

If the justices are supposed to apply the law evenly and without other considerations (like empathy), why don’t we have more 9-0 rulings? Why is it always 5-4?

sane jane

May 27th, 2009
4:51 pm

When you say ‘judicial activism’, are you talking about cases like Bush v. Gore where the SCOTUS makes a “one time” ruling that IT ITSELF said should never be followed as precedent?

the evil rich

May 27th, 2009
4:54 pm

Where is this story on Judge Sotomayor?

Her decision in a 2008 case involving firemen who took an exam for promotion. After the racial mix of those who passed that test turned out to be predominantly white, with only a few blacks and Hispanics, the results were thrown out.

When this action by the local civil service authorities was taken to court and reached the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Sotomayor backed those who threw out the test results.

Michael H.Smtih

May 27th, 2009
4:55 pm

HOOEY! So-called Sane Jane. This Judge Sotomayor has a very serious character flaw, one of the poorest I ever heard of, from any judge.

And Copyleft your first two questions are so irrelevant and completely out of context. Even if YOU and I’m giving YOU a challenge hot shot to back up YOUR crap here, can design a test, A WRITTEN TEST, that YOU think would automatically fail any white person and give me the material the test will cover to study in perpetration for that test and if I can’t pass that damn test I’LL buy YOU the lunch of YOUR choice including inviting the AJC to take picture of that darned event.

jim d

May 27th, 2009
4:56 pm

Sorry guys,

But I fear Sotomayor’s 2′nd amendment stance could be her undoing in the senate with elections looming in the near future.

Michael H. Smith

May 27th, 2009
5:07 pm

GOOD JIM! Anyway to stop this person from sitting on the Supreme Court, I’d take it. If this is a political thing, as surely it is with Obumer, then he should at least find someone of a Spanish ancestry that has an impeccable “content of character” and places their ancestry-ethnicity behind, in second place, to their American citizenship.

Michael H. Smith

May 27th, 2009
5:27 pm

And, furthermore CopyLeft wing-nut if I were a black person rather than a so-called white person I’d be even more offended by YOUR questions that imply that blacks are inherently dumber than white people and cannot compete with them on equal terms.

Blacks by no means whatsoever have a proclivity for being stupid, as YOUR questions have implied.

I know you liberals believe equal rights means government must guaranteed equal results but it doesn’t.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 27th, 2009
5:36 pm

Copyleft, I figured it would only be a matter of time before some high school drop out, such as yourself, would come along and play up the race card. Not to throw more mud in your eye but George W Bush nominated more Latinos and blacks than ANY previous administrations. I find it interesting that you left wingers name called each of his nominees.

Bottom line: It must truly suck to be you Copyleft. What a sad life you live.


May 27th, 2009
5:43 pm

Jim – Thanks to the references to Sotomayor’s lack of support for the 2nd Amendment. A SCOTUS Justice should uphold the entire BoR & embrace unwavering Constitutional adherence in all their decisions/judgements.


May 27th, 2009
8:31 pm

The hysteria and hypocrisy surrounding her nomination is astounding. Didn’t the country vote for Barack Obama and his agenda less than seven months ago? Doesn’t the Constitution provide that the President has the Constitutional authority to nominate Supreme Court justices? Is there overwhelming evidence that she is unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court? Let’s stick to the issues. Check out:


May 28th, 2009
8:18 am

Why would is “suck” to always be on the winning side of every argument? After all, the liberals WON, and we’re right on this as we are on pretty much every other issue–if only by default because the right wing is uniformly wrong due to inherent stupidity.

For example: Michael Smith, rather insanely and stupidly, assumes that I’m saying “blacks are inferior if they can’t pass a biased test,” which shows he has no understanding that a test CAN be biased at all.

And yes, G.W. Bush was certainly no racist. He nominated incompetent cronies of all creeds and colors!