Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Daily Strike-5/26/09-Sotomayor

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Today, the President exercised one of his most solemn constitutional duties and nominated an associate justice to the Supreme Court. Here's the full rundown.

SOTOMAYOR: President Obama today officially nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd District in New York. Judge Sotomayor is a graduate summa cum laude from Princeton, and attended Yale Law School, where she was the editor of the law review. She was nominated to a district court judgeship by President George H.W. Bush (although he did this as a compromise with New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan), and was later appointed by President Clinton to her current position. She is somewhat hard to pin down ideologically because she hasn't ruled on many hot button issues. But if I had to guess, I'd say she'll be a reliable liberal.

Just as important as her impressive credentials are what she represents. Judge Sotomayor will be the third woman justice, and first Hispanic justice (one commenter wrote that Justice Cardozo was actually the first Hispanic justice, and there is a dispute on that, but we'll leave it for another day). She shared her life story at an emotional ceremony today at the White House. Both her mother (who was present) and her father were immigrants from Puerto Rico. Sotomayor grew up in the South Bronx in public housing units. She was able to attend college based on a scholarship that she helped attain through her school and her family, and is now on the brink of joining the highest court in the land. It's certainly one of those "only in America" stories, which makes Sotomayor's confirmation more difficult to oppose. She, unlike many justices past and present, has a deep understanding of the hardships common in American life.

That didn't stop the right-wing from having a field day. The Republican National Committee, possibly finally learning the lesson that "gotcha" press releases aren't very helpful, stayed mum on her nomination, saying that she deserves a fair hearing. On the other hand was Rush Limbaugh, who said that Sotomayor is a reverse racist and that he wants her to fail. His racism charge comes from a statement she made in 2001 about seeing the law differently because of her experience as an Hispanic woman. This, according to Rush, is somehow reverse racism. The Judicial Confirmation Network, a right-wing activist group, sent out emails blasting Sotomayor as an "activist" judge.

Obama has put Republicans in a pretty big bind by making this nomination. Conservatives have been gearing up for an ideological fight over the future of the court. If they push too hard though, they risk being seen as obstructing the first Hispanic woman justice. And in case they haven't noticed, they're not winning many popularity contests in the Hispanic community these days. They don't have many other grounds on which to oppose her nomination either. While some have pointed to her as an intellectual "light-weight" (including liberal law professor Johnathan Turley, who is starting to get on my nerves), I think that's gonna be a tough sell considering her academic pedigree. Others have criticized her past rulings, but none of them thus far stand out to me as being very controversial.

The numbers don't look too good for Republicans either. Their only option in stopping her nomination would be to filibuster. Democrats, with 59 seats (excluding Al Franken) almost certainly would have the 60 votes to cut off debate, especially considering this glowing statement from Republican Senator Olympia Snowe. I predict that unless something crazy comes out about her, she'll pass with about 70 votes.

Overall, it was a very good day for the President and the country. The President made an expected, but wise choice by picking someone eminently qualified and empathetic to the needs of average Americans. The country has advanced one step further in that a new generation of Latinos will see that the sky's the limit. Again, I know it sounds corny, but it's true.

That's it for tonight, we'll see you tomorrow! Make sure you read the Weekly Strike!

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