Sonia Sotomayor wasn’t a nominee for more than an hour before Democratic and Republican talking points began circulating.
They’re something to pay attention to. If nothing else, they free you from the burden of watching cable news.
Not all conservatives are playing along with a cautionary Republican game plan. Marc Ambinder over at The Atlantic lists the groups using a statement Sotomayor made in 2005, during a panel discussion at Duke University, in which she said that the U.S. Court of Appeals is “where policy is made.”
Congressional Quarterly quotes Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, using another Sotomayor quote: “Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
But CQ, and others, are also talking about a reluctance among Republican leaders to immediately condemn the nomination of the first Hispanic woman to the U.S. Supreme Court:
Obama has handed Senate Republicans a tough choice: they can attack Sotomayor, the first potential Latina Supreme Court justice, and risk alienating Hispanic voters (and possibly women, too), or they can yield to Obama and tick off social conservatives who want blood.
You could tell that the GOP reaction to this moment was as premeditated as the announcement. The first tip-off was a demonstration by U.S. Saxby Chambliss on how Washington says, “I don’t know yet.” His e-mail flew down the Internet tubes within minutes of Sotomayor’s nomination by President Barack Obama:
“I have consistently stated that Supreme Court nominees must not engage in legislating from the bench, but must interpret the laws as they have been passed. The Senate deserves an appropriate amount of time to review this nominee. I look forward to a dignified and thorough confirmation process.”
Isakson, though in Africa at this moment, issued a near-identical paragraph. As did RNC Chairman Michael Steele, whose staff — whether purposely or not — added a list of official Republican talking points on the matter, sent to yours truly and many others. Then include:
Republicans are committed to a fair confirmation process and will reserve judgment until more is known about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views, judicial record and qualifications.
Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor’s record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments – which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations.
On the more contentious side, Republicans intend to argue that:
Justice Souter’s retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:
— Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;
— Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;
— Stripping “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;
— Abolishing the death penalty;
— Judicial micromanagement of the government’s war powers.
Democrats have been loose with their talking points as well. Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire has put up the memo now being circulated by the White House and beyond. The word “empathy” isn’t used, but the approach is there. The memo includes this:
The President’s Approach:
— The President believes that selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is one of his most serious responsibilities. He vowed to seek someone with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity. As a former constitutional law professor, he believes it paramount to select someone who rejects ideology and shares his deep respect for the Constitutional values on which this nation was founded.
— But, as the President has made clear, upholding those constitutional values requires more than just the intellectual ability to apply a legal rule to a set of facts. It requires a common sense understanding of how laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor:
— Judge Sonia Sotomayor embodies those qualities — as someone who brings not only brilliance in the law but a common sense understanding of how the law practically works.
— Her American story and three decade career in nearly every aspect of the law provide Judge Sotomayor with unique qualifications to be the next Supreme Court justice.
— She has been hailed as “a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity” for her ascent to the federal bench from an upbringing in a South Bronx housing project, and as “one of the ablest federal judges currently sitting” for her thoughtful opinions.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was fastest on the draw with his immediate condemnation, but lost points on marksmanship. When you slam someone, it’s nice to get the name right, notes Politico:
The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama’s campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric.
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