Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Supreme Sonia Sotomayor

I am no expert on Constitutional Law, the Supreme Court, or American Politics in general, but if the news is correct that Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme, it seems to me that the motivating factor was NOT:
  • Ethnicity, despite the fact that she will be the first Hispanic on the Court;
  • Gender, despite the fact that having two women out of nine is still a bit out of line with the number of women now reaching elite positions in Law;
  • Her demonstrated wisdom:

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.

Nope, it is that President Obama is as big a fan of alliteration as I am.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially as the right wing was aiming to spike any candidate chosen by Obama. But by choosing an Hispanic, he appeals to the swing vote this group represents; by choosing a woman, he is not compelled to replace Ginsburg with a woman and yet can solidify a somewhat better gender balance; by choosing someone who sided with the players against the owners, Obama appeals to unions; by choosing someone who started out in the projects, he shows that his "elitism" is focused on merit, not status upon birth. You can call it a trifecta, you can call it a grand slam, and there may be bumps in the road, but this seems to be the prototypical Obama decision--maximizing political capital, thorough vetting, and a potentially big payoff.

It will be interesting to see how the Republicans go about alienating the remaining Hispanics in their ever-narrowing tent as they try to fight this nomination.

1 comment:

Ellen Saideman said...

She also was first appointed to the federal district court bench by President George H.W. Bush, showing Obama's interest in bipartisanship.

She is also pretty moderate. She is a fit replacement for Justice Souter but not in the mold of Justice Brennan and Justice Marshall. As an a judge on an intermediate court of appeals, she is bound by Supreme Court precedent, so she may be somewhat different on the Supreme Court. We'll have to see.

But the Republicans definitely are going to have difficulty with arguing against her.

She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton with a prize for being one of the two best students in her class, so it is will be hard to argue that she is not smart!