The Gormogons wish Sonia Sotomayor the best of luck on her upcoming near-certain approval for the SCOTUS.
Like her nominator, she can be a difficult read, having more or less avoided many substantive cases that would otherwise predict what sort of judge she might be. Certainly most people seem to like her. Certainly, not all do.
Many conservatives are trying to make hay out of her glib 2005 comment that the Appeals Court is where policy is made; the Czar has heard the full quote as it was recorded, and it seems ambivalent about what she meant. A wish? An observation? Anyway, she is correct that the Appeals Court can be profoundly influential, and thinks too much is being read into this statement.
There are two items much more concerning to the Czar.
First, is her shocking dismissal of Ricci v. DeStefano, a fairly obvious case of reverse racism if the Czar has ever seen it. As you may recall, the case involved 20 firemen (white and Hispanic) who competed for 15 officer positions that opened up in New Haven, Connecticut. Seventy-seven firefighters tested for the promotion, twnty-seven of whom were black. As it happened, and for whatever reasons, not a single black firefighter passed the exam; consequently, the city threw out all the exam results, even though at least 20 others clearly did pass.
The 20 sued, saying that they were denied promotion because, in effect, they weren’t black. The City denied the allegations, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII as legitimate ground to deny all promotions. However, Rev. Boise Kimber, a prominent near-celebrity in New Haven, played the race card and pressured the City to deny the promotions. Hence the suit.
The firefighters’ claims were summarily dismissed, to the shock of most. They appealed. And the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals listened to the arguments. The judge was, of course, Judge Sotomayor. And she denied their claim, to the consternation of colleague Judge Jose Cabranes (no doubt you will see his name again), who felt she failed to apply a basic Constitutionality test to the arguments. This, to the Czar’s mind, is a fairly big gaffe—sufficient enough that the SCOTUS itself has taken on a review of the case.
Second, there seems to be a pervasive notion that she might not have been the best candidate. She certainly seems to be the best female candidate of color, which has led many—including the Czar—to wonder if POTUS Obama’s priorities were (a) gender, (b) race, and (c) experience, in that order. This is a fairly weak complaint—compared to our other complaints about the President’s methodologies—because the Czar has no better candidates springing to mind. Maybe that judge that the Czar had when sitting on a 1997 murder trial, who would interrupt the proceedings to take numerous calls from someone named Heidi. Whoever she was, she was evidently difficult to make appointments with.
Anyway, the Czar suspects that the review process will be reasonably thorough with Ms. Sotomayor, and wishes her luck. Hope she paid her taxes.
Two bits of nit-picking with President Obama’s otherwise nice introduction of Sonia Sotomayor:
Judges are not actually “granted life tenure” by the Constitution (about 00:43 into his speech). Rather, Article III states they shall hold office only “during good Behavior.” To be fair, his Oath of Office requires him to preserve, protect, and defend, but not to read the thing. The Czar suspects most people are unaware of this, too.
Also, listen in at about 00:51 seconds in, when the President says that “[judges] are charged with the vital task of applying principles put to paper more than twenty centuries ago.” The Supreme Court is tasked with interpreting the US Constitution, which was put to paper only two centuries ago.