Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sonia and the Senate play the game

I had to watch a good deal of the Sotomayor confirmation process today to write tomorrow's Register editorial, and was struck by the fact that this elaborate charade is even more phony than Supreme Court approval hearings usually are. Everybody knows that she benefited from a double standard on the "wise Latina woman" comment -- culturally-approved minorities can almost do no wrong -- and everybody knows she will be confirmed. She's replacing a "liberal" so she won't shift the balance of the court.

It's amazing to me that some conservative forces are so bent on putting a a full-court press of opposition. Strikes me as a waste of resources. Does "the base" really demand a campaign claiming she's the most radical nominee ever? She is probably slightly more radical than her judicial record would suggest, and she hardly strikes one as intellectually distinguished, but she may be the least ideologically-committed of those Obama considered seriously, and because of her background as a prosecutor will probably be fairly"conservative' (which means awful from my perspective) in criminal justice matters. The GOP senators were more restrained, as is politically wise. Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham pressed her fairly effectively on the speeches while paying enough respect so as not to alienate too many Hispanics . The other GOP senators, considering that this is the most significant TV time GOP figures will get this year, were generally pathetic.

They could have made a fairly serious case for constitutional judging, but presenting the notion that the rule of law in our system produces predictable results untainted by ethnic or ideological predilecetions (which are far more significant than ethnic is simply absurd in the face of all the 5-4 decisions the court routinely hands down. A significant educational moment wasted. Maybe tomorrow will be better, but I doubt it.

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