Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.
With the retirement of David Souter, President Obama gained the first opportunity for his administration to pick a member of the United States Supreme Court. Today, he has made his pick, one that should please two groups either not represented or under-represented on the court. With the selection of Sonya Sotomayor Obama managed to find a qualified Hispanic woman to nominate to our highest court.
In nominating Sotomayor Obama praised her and her qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court:
President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge
in New York, as the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court Monday, calling her "an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great Justice."
Sotomayor brings "a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court Justice," Obama said at the White House, with Sotomayor by his side.
With her humble beginnings and hard work to reach such accomplishment she fit the bill of what Obama was looking for in a justice, someone who understands everyday Americans and the challenges they face:
Obama has found somebody whose unlikely ascent to power is similar to his own life story. Obama highlighted Sotomayor’s humble roots. She grew up not far from Yankee Stadium in a Bronx Housing project. The daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor lost her father at 9 and was largely raised by her mother.
For her part, Sotomayor was humble and gracious in being nominated for our highest court:
Sotomayor, 54, said growing up in those "modest and challenging circumstances" helped her "respect and respond to the concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me, as well as my colleagues on the bench. I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government."
"It is a daunting feeling to be here," Sotomayor said after introducing her mother, Celina, and other relatives in emotional terms. "I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences."
The President really liked her experience and the fact she brings the qualities he was looking for in a justice to the table:
"It is experience that can give a person a common touch, and a sense of compassion, a sense of how the world works and how ordinary people live. That is why it is a necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court," Obama said.
Obama said he looked for two qualities in his nominee – a rigorous intellect and an understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret law, not make it – and said he found both in Sotomayor. And he called on the Senate to put aside partisanship to approve Sotomayor speedily, so that she could join with the other justices in picking case for the court’s new term in October.
This pick should solidify two very essential voting blocks for Obama and the Democrats in the last election:
In Sotomayor, Obama has chosen a nominee who will greatly please two powerful constituencies in his own party — women and Hispanics — that had openly lobbied for one of their own to replace Justice David Souter.
Hispanic groups and even members of Congress had pushed hard for representation on the court, suggesting that the community would be let down if Obama passed over a qualified Latino. In fulfilling their wishes, Obama moves to solidify his hold on the pivotal Hispanic vote and tighten his party’s grasp on the west.
Consevatives wasted no time in attacking Sotomayor, although nothing but a right-wing ideologue would ever please them, and they obviously are not going to get that from this President:
Previewing the right’s planned reaction, Wendy E. Long, counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said in a statement: "Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench."
Senate majority "leader" Mitch McConnell released this statement:
"Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.
"Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a ‘rubber stamp.’ Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications."
McConnell needs to realize that "rubber-stamps" apply to starting failed wars in coutries that did not attack us, or giving no-bid contracts to companies that make the former administration rich, or enacting policies that destroy our economy by catering to the greediest and least patriotic among us, not the Supreme Court. I think it would serve McConnell well to listen to his own advice:
"Mr. President, the President has discharged his constitutional obligation under Article II, Section 2 to nominate justices of the Supreme Court. He has chosen a truly outstanding nominee. It is now our job to provide advice and consent. In doing so, we should follow basically three principles:
• We should treat Judge Roberts with dignity and respect.
• We should have a fair process.
• And we should complete that process with either an up or down vote in time for the Court to be at full strength for its new term on October 3 of this year.
"Similarly, we should not caricature Judge Roberts’ beliefs or views. We should not attribute to him the actions of clients he has represented. We should not criticize Judge Roberts because his position in a particular case did not mirror a senator’s personal policy preferences.
"Nor, when it comes to a fair process, should we require Judge Roberts to prejudge cases, or pre-commit to deciding certain issues in a certain way. We should respect the fact that he may place himself in a compromising position by doing so, just as we did with Justice O’Connor, Justice Ginsburg, and other nominees who have come before us in the past.
"The inquiry should be thorough but fair. Slow-walking the process beyond historical norms and engaging in a "paper chase" simply to delay a timely up or down vote are not hallmarks of a fair process.
In fact, McConnell would be well served to listen to some advice Sen. Tim Johnson gave during the process that put Samuel Alito on the court:
Johnson said he had misgivings about Alito on some issues. "Even so, I cannot accept an argument that his views are so radical that the Senate is justified in denying his confirmation.
With his diminished minority, and his party that ideologues have trimmed down to a party of southern, white, angry corporate apolegists, McConnell and the Republicans might want to realize that they should step lightly or risk further alienating everyone but their rabid base of ultra-Conservatives:
However, the fact that Sotomayor is a Latina could also present a political challenge for Republicans. Senators from the GOP, which has suffered from an internal rift over immigration issues and troubled efforts to reach out to Hispanics, will have to decide how directly and sharply they want to attack a Latina whose confirmation to the court is virtually certain.
While Sotomayor is almost virtually a lock for the court in the Democratic controlled Senate it is curious to see what McConnell and the Republicans will do. Will they further shave their party back to an even smaller majority of embittered Conservatives or will they take their own advice from the nominations of Roberts and Alito?? My guess is that they have not that much vision.
So to Ms. Sotomayor I say congratulations. Years of hard work and service to the public are being rewarded with this nomination. I for one, hope to see you on the Supreme Court for many years to come. I leave you with the video of Sotomayor's nomination: