Friday, July 17, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor a Stealth Nominee (for us anyway)

Unless there are any new revelations, the Senate will probably confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. She is, to all intents and purposes, a stealth nominee. Conservatives believe, with some good reason, that she will vote with on affirmative action programs (they are still needed) given her vote to summarily dismiss a "reverse-discrimination" claim filed by white firefighters, and against incorporating the Second Amendment (too bad) since she did not vote to do so in a case involving the use of a martial arts weapon, and property rights (again, too bad).

She is, however, on most issues a stealth nominee. Unlike Chief Justice John Roberts, Sotomayor heard no cases involving the indefinite detention of administration-declared "enemy combatants" or any gay rights challenges. Her record on religious exercise, separation of church and state, abortion and civil rights cases offers us no clue how she will vote. Her opinions, we have heard, are narrowly based and largely adhere to established precedents.

The man she is replacing too was a stealth nominee. He too, lacked a paper trail on the hot button issues that were discussed at his nomination hearings. Women rights groups opposed his nomination, fearing the worst but liberal groups breathed a sigh of relief when he voted to uphold the central holding of Roe v Wade.

Liberals who urge the Democrats to confirm her are rolling the dice. They may luck out. They might not. It might depend upon the issue. I personally would have preferred a justice with a known moderately liberal-to-libertarian record but her credentials, like Chief Justice Roberts' are impeccable and she had said nothing during the hearings or even in her past to warrant a vote against her.

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