Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor Hearing, Day Three

I've learned Sonia Sotomayor and I have a similar taste in childhood entertainment. We both were big fans of Nancy Drew mystery books and of the Perry Mason Show. And, I, too once considered a career in the law biz.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one here. If, however, I apply the standards that then candidate Obama placed on his qualifications to be President of the United States with so little experience on a national level of politics - that he took a foreign relations course in his lower school days - then I can use my pre-law courses from my college days as qualification to write about law stuff. Seems fair, right?

Legalese fascinates me, just as political speech does. Both take words and put them into sentences that mean absolutely nothing at all or have earth shaking consequences. These days of the nomination hearing for Sonia Sotomayor are interesting like that. A whole lot of nothing, of going over the same areas ad nausea and very little new is learned. Yet there is always the possibility that something, an answer or statement, pops up and ears perk up in the audience.

Senator John Cornyn, D-TX, told Jim Geraghty of National Review that "We don't know if we're going to get Sonia Sotomayor the speech-giver or Sonia Sotomayor the judge. Once she's on the Supreme Court, she can say anything she wants with no chance of reversal. The lack of clarity is creating some problems." He also said, "we don't have the numbers to effect a filibuster, even if we were so inclined."

No one thinks Sotomayor should be filibustered, except maybe some hard right folks. She is qualified. She is smart. She is experienced. She is not exceptional in any of those descriptions, though, and she does appear to be contradicting her own record in the confirmation hearing questioning. She claims some statements made in speeches around the country were misunderstood. The over-questioned 'wise Latina woman' phrase being one. Then she dragged Sandra Day O'Connor into the mix by saying she was making a similar statement of one made by her. And by Justice Alito. It is all odd.

At reasononline, Damon W. Root writes that "Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett catches Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor misstating constitutional law during today's confirmation hearings." Barnett claims Sotomayor is wrong to state that "a right is "fundamental" if it is "incorporated" against the states via the 14th Amendment rather than that a right is incorporated against the states if it is fundamental. She then claimed that Supreme Court precedent established that that the Second Amendment is not incorporated. This too is inaccurate." "Judge Sotomayor's panel in the Second Circuit said nothing about the merits of the claim that the individual right to bear arms meets the modern test for identifying a fundamental right."

Despite contradictions and questions arising about her level of honesty in her answers to the Judicial Committee, she will be confirmed. Ruth Marcus wrote of if Sotomayor wasn't confirmed, however, it would be the fault of President Obama, due to his actions as a U.S. Senator. As a Senator, Obama voted against John Roberts and Samuel Alito purely on ideology. Both were highly qualified, highest recommendations on character and judicial demeanor, and both had the 'compelling life story' aspect to their stories. Since both are Republicans nominated by a Republican President Bush, their stories were just yawn worthy to the Democrats hell bent to damage these men as much as possible. All politics at the lowest form. As Marcus writes, "You don't have to be cynical to think politics was at play, too; in fact, you just have to read the Washington Post, which reported that Obama's Senate chief of staff, Pete Rouse, warned him that a vote for Roberts could cripple his presidential ambitions." "As Graham told Sotomayor, "I can assure you that if I applied Sen. Obama's standard to your nomination, I wouldn't vote for you, because the standard that he articulated would make it impossible for anybody with my view of the law and society to vote for someone with your activism and background when it comes to lawyering and judging."

Marcus ends with this: "Judging from the tone so far, the more likely outcome is a near party-line vote. In that case, the prescient won't have only himself to blame - but he will have himself to blame in part."

What goes around, comes around.


srp said...

Is there a lawyer somewhere that will answer a question "yes" or "no"? I remember having to testify in a ... hmm.. actually, it was a murder case (I did the autopsy).. and the attorney's were MOST insistent that the question be answered "yes" or "no". Don't explain, or give muddy answers... did the shotgun blast to the head kill the victim... "YES".

And yet, I have NEVER heard a lawyer follow his/her own demands... even when the question is very clearly put... as in the questioning yesterday.. one of the Senators wanted HER answer to the question of personal freedom, as in "Do YOU think the 2nd amendment...etc." He explained that it was what people wanted to know... first... what are HER personal beliefs... you can't really judge a judge without knowing the core beliefs first. How else are you to know if they administer the law fairly?

BTW, I didn't sit down to watch it... my mom is really in to hearings and the speeches and as she is hard of hearing... the whole household gets to listen whether we want to or not! :)

Karen said...

Yeah. I've dipped in and out of the hearings. Can't take all the silly platitudes from the left side of the aisle over her. I just want to hear her answers to specific questions and skip the hearts and flowers.

srp said...

But really, if we are honest... has she actually given an answer... at least one that can be understood without a law degree?