Supreme Court Nominations
The Four Likely Lines of Attack Against Sonia Sotomayor
Posted May 26, 2009 8:54 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
"Ideologues" are likely to advance four lines of attack against federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor when confirmation hearings are held, likely in the third week of July, according to a frequent U.S. Supreme Court litigator.
Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in a press conference this morning.
Mainstream Republicans are unlikely to risk political capital on opposing a nominee who would become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court, litigator Thomas Goldstein writes on SCOTUSblog, the blog he created. But extreme public interest groups that depend on controversy to raise funds have an interest in caricaturing the nominee, he says.
Goldstein sees these possible lines of attack:
1) Sotomayor is not smart enough, a claim likely to be “stated obliquely and only on background.” The claim isn’t true, according to Goldstein. She graduated from the top of her class at Princeton and went on to attend Yale Law School. Her opinions are well-reasoned and clearly written. “Nothing suggests she isn’t the match of the other justices.”
2) Sotomayor is a judicial activist. Goldstein says SCOTUSblog’s review of Sotomayor’s judicial opinions shows her to be “on the left of this Supreme Court, just not the radical left.”
3) Judge Sotomayor is dismissive of positions with which she disagrees. This line of attack will include references to a speech in which Sotomayor said the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging” and to another speech in which she acknowledged that federal judges effectively make policy. Goldstein’s conclusion: “There just isn’t any remotely persuasive evidence that Judge Sotomayor acts lawlessly or anything of the sort.”
4) Sotomayor is too gruff and impersonable. Goldstein says his impression from her questioning at oral arguments is that Sotomayor, a tough questioner, is similar to Justice Antonin Scalia and, when he is engaged, the justice she will replace, David H. Souter.