Any standard-issue liberal for the court.






It’s granted that Barack Obama will appoint a liberal to replace David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Democrats in the White House are far better than Republicans at recognizing potential justices who share their interpretation of the Constitution.  Too, the politicization of the nominating process has worked in the liberal’s favor. 

George H.W. Bush picked Souter because he wanted a non-controversial nominee. Souter lacked a paper trail, an advantage at the time since abortion rights advocates were determined to make the appointment solely about whether Roe v. Wade would be overturned.  Boy was Bush wrong.

Obama’s appointee to replace Souter may well come this week.  It will be a liberal and, as such, won’t change the 5-4 balance on the Supreme Court, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote.   The President has said he wants a nominee who has “empathy” and “a little bit of a common touch”  and “a practical sense of how the world works.”  Sounds like he wants a politician, somebody like Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) said on Fox News Sunday that “I don’t care whether they’re liberal or conservative, I just want to make sure they’re not activist. I don’t want an activist on the bench.”

Dozens of potential candidates exist who would not push Republicans and perhaps Nelson to filibuster.  This President does not look to me for advice, but if he’s smart a standard-issue liberal who’s not controversial would be the way to go.  It’s a fight neither he, nor the nation, needs now.

47 comments Add your comment

Redneck Convert

May 26th, 2009
8:36 am

Well, I’m OK with just about any SC pick long as he or she is against abortion, promises to vote against Roe v. Wade, will always take the side of business and Free Innerprize, is in favor of the Death Penalty, beleives in States Rights, and wants to overturn these equal rights laws.

Other than that, I’m with Wooten. I can live with anybody this Obama picks. Us Conservatives ain’t picky.


May 26th, 2009
8:46 am

I wonder how long the right-wing pundits have had their screeds and columns of outrage and indignation all prepped and ready for the official announcement….


May 26th, 2009
8:49 am

Boy howdy, but this column is all wet.

First, Ben Nelson must have been smoking the rope when he said that it doesn’t matter whether the nominee be conservative (like that’s gonna happen) or liberal as long as she’s “not activist”. I hope that bozo isn’t on the Judiciary Committee, because a liberal interpretation of the Constitution MEANS JUDICIAL ACTIVISM.

Second, I don’t care whether Jim Wooten or anybody else concludes that a confirmation battle in Judiciary “is not the fight” that either the president or the nation “needs now”; if it comes to a fight, it’s a fight worth fighting, now as ever.

Guess What

May 26th, 2009
8:51 am

President Obama will nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as his first appointment to the court, officials said Tuesday, and has scheduled an announcement for 10:15 a.m. at the White House.

If confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, Judge Sotomayor, 54, would replace Justice David H. Souter to become the second woman on the court and only the third female justice in the history of the Supreme Court. She also would be the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court.

The president reached his decision over the long Memorial Day weekend, aides said, but it was not disclosed until Tuesday morning when he informed his advisers of his choice less than three hours before the announcement was scheduled to take place.

The president narrowed his list to four, according to people close to the selection process, including Federal Appeals Judge Diane P. Wood of Chicago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

In what may be her best-known ruling, Judge Sotomayor issued an injunction against major league baseball owners in April 1995, effectively ending a baseball strike of nearly eight months, the longest work stoppage in professional sports history, which had led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.


May 26th, 2009
8:54 am

Cue the wingnut outrage….3….2….1…..


May 26th, 2009
8:55 am

More proof that Wooten has lost his memory…”Democrats in the White House are far better than Republicans at recognizing potential justices who share their interpretation of the Constitution.”

Scalia. Alito. Roberts. Thomas.

Jeez, man, at least try to be serious.

Dick Cheney

May 26th, 2009
8:58 am

Let the battle begin.

Curious Observer

May 26th, 2009
9:03 am

We will now pause briefly while the conservatives acquire the relevant talking points from Mr. Limbaugh.


May 26th, 2009
9:05 am

Breaking news….Sotomayor uses Dijon mustard, has been known to eat arugula.

Be afraid, America. This deranged extremist will take away your yellow mustard and iceberg lettuce and force you to have an abortion.

Guess What

May 26th, 2009
9:06 am

Federal judges are rarely famous or widely celebrated. Yet during a brief period in 1995, Judge Sonia Sotomayor became revered, at least in those cities with major league baseball teams.

Sonia SotomayorShe ended a long baseball strike that year, briskly ruling against the owners in favor of the players.

The owners were trying to subvert the labor system, she said, and the strike had “placed the entire concept of collective bargaining on trial.”

After play resumed, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that by saving the season, Judge Sotomayor joined forever the ranks of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams. The Chicago Sun-Times said she “delivered a wicked fastball” to baseball owners and emerged as one of the most inspiring figures in the history of the sport.

Judge Sotomayor is now high on lists that lawyers and politicians have assembled of possible replacements for Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court.

Part of the reason is her approach on the bench, which she displayed as a trial judge in the baseball strike and for the last 11 years has shown as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York City. She questions lawyers vigorously, and delivers what her admirers say are crisp, forceful and reasoned decisions.

But her potential appeal to President Obama as a nominee to the Supreme Court also derives in part from her personal story, a version of the up-from-modest-circumstances tales that have long been used to build political support. Judge Sotomayor, 54, grew up in a Bronx housing project, a child of Puerto Rican parents. She would be the court’s first Hispanic justice.

Her father died when she was 9, leaving her mother to raise her and a brother. In speeches to Latino groups over the years, Judge Sotomayor has recalled how her mother worked six days a week as a nurse to send her and her brother to Catholic school, purchased the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood and kept a warm pot of rice and beans on the stove every day for their friends.

She loved Nancy Drew mysteries, she once said, and yearned to be a police detective. But a doctor who diagnosed her childhood diabetes suggested that would be difficult. She traded her adoration of Nancy for an allegiance to Perry — she became a fan of Perry Mason on television, she said, and decided to become a lawyer.

She went to Princeton, which she has described as a life-changing experience. When she arrived on campus from the Bronx, she said it was like “a visitor landing in an alien country.” She never raised her hand in her first year there. “I was too embarrassed and too intimidated to ask questions,” Judge Sotomayor said.

In one speech, she sounded some themes similar to Mr. Obama’s description of his social uncertainties as a biracial youth in a largely white society.

“I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit,” she said, adding that that despite her accomplishments, “I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”

After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton, she went to Yale Law School, worked for Robert M. Morgenthau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and spent time in private practice before being named to the bench.

In addition to ending the baseball strike while on the trial court, Judge Sotomayor ruled in another case that homeless people working for the Grand Central Partnership, a business consortium, had to be paid the minimum wage.

She had been nominated to the district court in 1992 by the first President Bush, but actually chosen for the seat by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, who had an arrangement with his Republican counterpart, Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, to share district court judge selections in New York.

In 1997, Republican senators held up her nomination by President Bill Clinton to the appeals court for more than a year, because they believed that as a Hispanic appellate judge she would be a formidable candidate for the Supreme Court.

On the Circuit Court, she has been involved in few controversial issues like abortion. Some of her most notable decisions came in child custody and complex business cases.

Her most high-profile case involved New Haven’s decision to toss out tests used to evaluate candidates for promotion in the fire department because there were no minority candidates at the top of the list.

She was part of a panel that rejected the challenge brought by white firefighters who scored high but were denied promotion. Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff, argued that it was unfair he was denied promotion after he had studied intensively for the exam and even paid for special coaching to overcome his dyslexia.

The case produced a heated split in the Circuit Court and is now before the Supreme Court.

Judge Sotomayor married before she graduated from college and divorced a few years later. Her diabetes, for which she takes insulin daily, has not proved to be a problem, but some have speculated as to whether her illness could or should be an issue in terms of her projected longevity on the court, because of the potential for complications.

Some lawyers have described her courtroom manner as abrupt, but several others said in interviews that it represents nothing more than her direct, New York style. Judge Martin Glenn, who as a veteran appeals lawyer had appeared before her frequently, said that she was widely regarded as an excellent judge

Judge Glenn, now a federal bankruptcy judge, said that Judge Sotomayor always asked “questions that were penetrating but fair.”

“She was always respectful,” he said.

Judge Glenn said lawyers generally regard her as representative of what he said is called “a hot bench,” meaning that questions come fast and furious and lawyers have to be fully prepared.

Ga Values

May 26th, 2009
9:08 am

She is not the best looking woman. If Obama was going to hire a woman he should have gone to the Pink Pony. That way you know what you are getting.


May 26th, 2009
9:10 am

Why does Jim like W’s activist judges but not Obama’s?? As always Curious.

Redneck Convert

May 26th, 2009
9:13 am

O me! One of Those Other People and a Cookie Baker to boot! This country is going to the dogs.


May 26th, 2009
9:17 am

I was wondering how long it would take before someone commented on Judge Sotomayor’s appearance. Mystery solved by Ga Values @ 9:08. Too bad she’s not as hot as Fat Tony Scalia.


May 26th, 2009
9:19 am

Of 158 Supreme Court nominations since 1789, 28 — roughly 18 percent — have not made it, compared with only a 4 percent failure rate for Cabinet nominations. (One hapless soul, Edwin M. Stanton, was nominated by Ulysses S. Grant in 1869 and was confirmed by the Senate, only to die before he could take office.) And although, in the early days of the republic, some nominees were confirmed on the same day their names were sent to the Senate, in recent years, the average confirmation period has stretched out to two or three months, as battles have grown ugly, energized and organized.


May 26th, 2009
9:19 am


May 26th, 2009
9:19 am

“Judge Sotomayor married before she graduated from college and divorced a few years later. Her diabetes, for which she takes insulin daily…”

Wingnut translation: This woman betrayed her marriage vows (probably a lesbian) and she is an intravenous drug user.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

May 26th, 2009
9:26 am

The decline of General Motors may be putting thousands of auto workers
and managers out of work, but it will be putting a lot of lawyers to

A Chapter 11 filing by the automaker would be the most complicated that
any American company has gone through, surpassing Chrysler and Lehman
Brothers in complexity and most likely racking up hundreds of millions
of dollars in legal fees,

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

May 26th, 2009
9:29 am

On Friday, 20 House lawmakers sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary,
arguing that the Obama administration’s auto task force is unfairly
favoring the United Auto Workers over bondholders

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

May 26th, 2009
9:33 am

Porsche, which is trying to combine with Volkswagen, is in danger of
losing some of the 17.3 billion euros ($24.3 billion) in profit
recorded from holding VW options because it may not have the money to
exercise them.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

May 26th, 2009
9:39 am

UBS, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and Depfa Bank have dropped an
appeal against the seizure of 345 million euros ($482 million) of their
assets amid an investigation of fraud involving derivatives sold to the
city of Milan,


May 26th, 2009
9:40 am

As long as extremism is not prevalent in the new Justices ruling, it matters not who is nominated for the vacant seat.


May 26th, 2009
9:56 am


I’m sorry, but it does matter. Supreme Court justices ought to carry the highest intellectual firepower. That should be the qualification, and then they can fight with their judicial colleagues over differing interpretations of our sublime Constitution.

To all,

Does anyone here not know the meaning of the term “judicial activism”? Does anyone disagree that judicial activism is a scourge? Does anyone not believe that Judge Sotomayor is a judicial activist?


May 26th, 2009
9:56 am

Standard issue liberal? You’re not EVEN phoning it in anymore, Mr. Wooten! You only prove Bill Maher’s joke a couple of weeks ago: “Republicans are outraged at Obama’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter. And as soon as they find out who it is, they’ll tell you why.”

Yes, scramble now to the think tanks and Hannity’s shorts where you’ll be briefed on the exact reasons why Sotomayor was a great person when George H W appointed her, but now a “standard issue liberal” of the worst kind. ZZZZZ zzzzzz ZZZZZZZZ zzzzzzzz…..


May 26th, 2009
10:06 am

It’s true that Supreme Court justices ought to carry the highest intellectual firepower; that’s why we need more liberal justices.

As for “judicial activism,” sure I know the definition: “Any ruling that far-right wingnuts dislike, regardless of what the Constitution says.”

It is a “scourge”? Heck no! Is Sotomayor an “activist”? There’s no evidence to support such a claim, but I certainly hope so.


May 26th, 2009
10:07 am

Jim wrote before the pick was announced…….so now what Jim ?


May 26th, 2009
10:16 am

Peter, please be patient. Wooten’s head is busy doing recon up Hannity’s shorts. He’ll get back to you when he’s got the outrage memorized, point for point.


May 26th, 2009
10:20 am


“There is no evidence”? You obviously haven’t any copy left.

@ the rest of you,

Jim cited Fox News, the bane of our resident liberals. On Fox News I just heard Charles Krauthammer, who is, among other things, an attorney, say unequivocally that while Judge Sotomayor certainly will be confirmed*, still conservatives should take this opportunity to make their case against activism and “empathy”. He said that conservatives should “have it out” and put their arguments “on the table”.

The concept of judicial empathy, he argued, is tantamount to partiality, and partiality is antithetical to juridical principle.

* I predict that in fact she will not be confirmed, but rather will go down on account of some incidental controversy, such as her big mouth, or perhaps a nannygate or tax evasion, etc. It’s hers to lose, but I bet she’ll lose.

sane jane

May 26th, 2009
10:30 am

Glenn, I *thought* knew what “judicial activist” meant, until the GOP began to use it to describe ANY left-leaning jurist.

Kind of like how anything “liberal” became “socialist” lately.

Words matter, you know. So don’t be shocked when voters continue to see the GOP as ‘crying wolf.’

But by all means, please explain it to us. And show how one can be Liberal and NOT a judicial activist.

Besides, what could be more judicially active than conservative jurists citing “eminent domain” to take private land & give it to friendly corporations?


May 26th, 2009
10:32 am

Not only does this woman lack the brainbox necessary to stand up to a Scalia, she’s not even grammatical. Liberals, be careful what you wish for.


May 26th, 2009
10:33 am

“Judicial activism” is a generally meaningless phrase that is used for two reasons: i) to excite the base to opposition, and ii) to try to persuade the mindless middle that there might be something untoward about judges actually, you know, making judgments. (It works on simpleton chin-strokers like Sen Ben Nelson, who oh so dearly want to be seen as ’serious’.)

But let’s assume that ‘judicial activism’ really means what the folks like Glenn purport — an improper effort by judges to impose their own personal views onto the legal system. If that, then by any standard the Rehnquist/Roberts court has been among the most “active” in history. (With the indefensible “one time only” reasoning in Bush v Gore as Exhibit A.) But of course, that’s not really what Glenn and company mean.

In fact, every judge from traffic court on up engages in some kind of “activism”. This is because we have human beings on the bench, not rubber stamping automata. The very flexibility necessary for a working and useful judicial system is an invitation to “activism”, everything from going easy on a first offender to reflexively awarding custody to mothers in a divorce to savaging the life of Genarlow Wilson…these are all examples of activism within the judiciary. It’s a fact of life, and basing opposition on that slim reed is just a surrogate for honest opposition to her beliefs.

Much will be made of Sotomayor’s candid recognition that her life experiences will have an impact on her judicial work. Yet this should be an unremarkable fact. What is remarkable is that we never question whether the Roberts’ or Scalias’ life experiences influence their judgement; that is because it is assumed that their experience is in keeping with “the norm” of approved American experience. But that day has passed, and the caterwauling of the Glenns about “judicial activism” is nothing more than another lament in the face of a future that does not privilege the white male any longer.

Get used to it.

Get Real

May 26th, 2009
10:37 am

To Glenn @ 9:56….. “Supreme Court justices ought to carry the highest intellectual firepower.”

I agree with you on that, but that would disqualify Clarence Thomas. Being that it is well know that he never asks any questions during deliberations and votes with Scalia 100% of the time. Keep it real man. You repubs say no to activist judges but Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts are always on the side of big business. They’re activist for corporations and conservative thinking so whats the difference? Have an honest debate, please.


May 26th, 2009
10:44 am

sane jane,

Evidently you are indeed quite sane, but the words “judicial activism” are not among those words which do not “matter”. It’s pretty basic. Under our Constitution, Congress makes the laws, the Executive either vetoes or else enforces them, and the Judiciary interprets or nullifies them.

At the federal level activism belongs in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives. Yet the Constitution bars even Congress from lawmaking on certain matters, such as religion. The problem with judicial activism is that it is a usurpation by appointed jurists of the perquisites of elected representatives. Judges who view themselves as lawmakers therefore infringe our rights and the rightful duties of those whom we elect.

I call judicial activism a “scourge” for this reason, and also because it is meted out precisely by those to whom the Constitution is entrusted. This second point is a bitter irony: judicial activism is a constitutional violation perpetrated under color of the Constitution.


May 26th, 2009
10:59 am

I would like to know what Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky, a liberal in the tradition of the Warren Court, has to say about this nomination. Would any of you happen to know on which network I might look for his commentary? CNN, maybe? I’ve lost track of him.


May 26th, 2009
11:09 am

Glenn, you’re missing some basic logic here. YOU’RE the one claiming Sotomayor is a “judicial activist” (whatever that means this week), so YOU’RE the one who needs to provide some evidence supporting your claim.

Have you got any?


May 26th, 2009
11:12 am

From my (limited) knowledge of Chemerinsky’s history, my guess is that he will find this choice not quite as liberal as he would prefer.

He is currently head of the UC Irvine School of Law, and making quite a name for himself in Orange County.

Ray Pugh

May 26th, 2009
11:14 am

Will the morons on this board (90% of you) who have no experience w/ the legal system other than DUIs, child support and meth charges please STFU. You have no more idea of what you are talking than a homeless drunk walking into an OR telling the surgeon how to operate…


May 26th, 2009
11:18 am

Guess which flaming liberal said this:

“All 100 members of the U.S. Senate will soon decide a basic question of fairness. Will we permit a fair, up-or-down vote on every judicial nominee? Or, will we create an unprecedented 60-vote requirement for the confirmation of the President’s judges? I sincerely hope that it is the former.
These filibusters of judicial nominations injure the administration of justice and our nation’s political culture. Some courthouses have sat empty for many years, even though a bipartisan majority of senators stands ready to fill the vacancies by confirming the president’s nominees. And as every American knows, the political wrangling over this issue has become less and less civil with every passing day.”

Yep, kids, you guessed it. That was Dirty F+|=!ng Hippie Bill “cat killer” Frist. Stupid liberal.


May 26th, 2009
11:21 am

He hasn’t directly commented on Sotomayor, but here’s Chemerinsky’s column on nominees from the National Law Review:


May 26th, 2009
11:23 am

Another stupid hippie com-symp:

“Let’s get back to the way the Senate operated for over 200 years, up or down votes on the president’s nominee, no matter who the president is, no matter who’s in control of the Senate. That’s the way we need to operate. ”

Right again, kids. That’s straight from the thin lips of Mitch McConnell. Gosh, this Google machine sure is fun!! Look, here’s another:

“All of the president’s nominees-both now and in the future-deserve a fair up or down vote, regardless of whether some members of the Senate feel they can be filibustered based on whatever they define to be extraordinary circumstances.”

Boy, that Sam Brownback sure is liberal.

Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

May 26th, 2009
11:30 am

Munch 11:23 am

My Daddy said that too, but it only applies when the Republicans are in power and those low life liberal Democrats are in our way.


May 26th, 2009
11:43 am

Copyleft @ 11:09 – Of course he doesn’t. Parrots seldom think about the things they’re, well, parroting…


May 26th, 2009
12:06 pm


It’s funny that you would mention Chemerinsky. I’ve read, at various sites, that he would be the perfect pick to counteract the right-wing extremists, Roberts and Alito?

I think Obama’s marketing of Sotomayor as ethnic, deprived and female leaves much to the imagination. I’m willing to let the confirmation process unveil. When looking at The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, lawyers are saying she’s bright but not that bright — that she’s abrupt and outspoken. I find Scalia to be abrupt and outspoken. Bright? Absolutely.

I don’t think Sotomayor will be as far left as many of Obama’s supporters would have liked.

Personally I think Republican senators will sit back letting conservative interest groups take the lead, then they’ll test Sotomayor’s mettle during confirmation hearings.

Will the public be THAT interested? Not likely.


May 26th, 2009
12:12 pm

This line of reasoning is interesting….

“Look, this is not just any nomination. This is the first Hispanic ever nominated for that position…We work with Hispanic people all over America who are every bit as devoted to our country as any citizen who has ever been in this country. I personally love Hispanic people. Frankly, I know my friends in the Hispanic community, and Hispanic people all over America, are watching this debate, and they are sensing something very unfair going on here.”

…especially since it was Sen Orrin Hatch pushing back against people who would dare oppose Abu Gonzalez in his nomination.

So come on, wingnuts…let’s enlarge that “big tent” by going full-throttle in opposition to the first Hispanic nominee in Supreme Court history.

for the record

May 26th, 2009
12:39 pm

many of sotomayor’s rulings have been overturned in the higher courts which leads me to believe she isn’t all that smart just liberally active.


May 26th, 2009
3:47 pm

To those of you who’ve tried to catch me up on Chemerinsky’s thinking, thank you.

@ Munch,

Thank you especially for telling me that he’s at UCI; that’s interesting. Interesting also is UCI’s antics, over the years, in trying to buy a law school, which they felt they needed to do mainly because of the dearth, in Southern California, of intellectual property law.

You’re absolutely right that when I describe Judge Sotomayor as a judicial activist the burden of proof is upon me. I’d thought that such evidence would go without saying–I mean, have you read any account of her judicial record?–but if you want it certified, then fine. Fair enough.


I still don’t know why you don’t dump the hunk (except that he’s good and you love him) and run away with me to Morocco. And in case you don’t know it, that’s a Mr. Bean’s way of saying that I appreciate an embarrassing proportion of what you post.

Best wishes to you both,



May 26th, 2009
6:12 pm

Her lack of reasoning behind the affirmative action support she gave the city of New Haven which had denied whtie firefighters a chance at a promotion was a disgrace. It is possible the civil service examination that was given is discriminating, but her court only looked at the results..No blacks and only two Hispanics passed the test. Is that a discriminatory test? Her court doesn’t know. It never looked at the test. Affirmative action, according to no less a constitutional authority than President Obama, penalises people who have done nothing wrong. Only an idealogue, like perhaps the prospective Supreme Court Justice, refuses to look at the discrimination that is taking place under her nose.