This could take some time, what with the pro forma hearings and all. But President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court seems doomed to failure. And it’ll be Obama’s fellow Democrats in the Senate who’ll end up voting against her.
How can we know? They’ve told us so.
Let’s backtrack a bit. Senators love to talk. Normally that’s little more than an annoyance -- background noise on C-SPAN. But in this case it gives us a valuable record to examine. Just three years ago the Senate was called upon to approve President George W. Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito to the high court. And a steady stream of Democrats rose to explain why the nominee was unacceptable.
Oh, this wasn’t partisan, they insisted. They’d be pleased to vote for a qualified nominee who’d help knit the country together. But Alito just wasn’t that person.
But let’s take a look at Sotomayor through the lens these elected officials held up just three years ago. Back then, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were especially concerned with some papers from Alito’s days at Princeton in the 1970s. “I think we are entitled to this information. It deals with the fundamental issues of equality and discrimination,” declared Sen. Ted Kennedy in a futile attempt to have the hearings postponed.
In the event, the papers in question -- dealing with a group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- didn’t mention Alito at all. But if Kennedy remains interested in matters of “equality and discrimination,” he might want to consider a speech Sotomayor gave in 2001.
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” she said back then. Oh? She seems to be saying a person’s ethnicity or gender (or both) would make that person better able to read the law than a person of a different ethnicity or gender. That’s a nakedly discriminatory statement.
“The Supreme Court is the guardian of our most cherished rights and freedoms. They are symbolized in the four eloquent words inscribed above the entrance to the Supreme Court: ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’” Sen. Kennedy later added. “Will the nominee be fair and open-minded, or will his judgment be tainted by rigid ideology? Is he genuinely committed to the principle of equal justice under law?” It’s difficult to read Sotomayer’s comments and believe she’s dedicated to “equal justice under law.” Guess Kennedy will be voting no.