SCOTUS: Sotomayor, Affirmative Action, the Ricci Case and the GOP’s Helms Ad Groundhog Day Strategery

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick appeared on The Takeaway radio program in NYC this morning, and her characterization on the Sotomayor nomination and her Hispanic heritage was spot on:

She’s not just another appeals court judge–she is dramatically different.

As I said earlier, Sotomayor brings real world experience to the table along with her bench credentials, akin to what we saw with Justices Marshall and Ginsburg, albeit on different subjects and intensity.  Dahlia indicated that affirmative action cases may be the flashpoint for the GOP on Sotomayor.  I agree — and not just because her Hispanic heritage gives the nuttier among them the opportunity to dog whistle with abandon.

And, then behold.  On cue, it’s Wendy Long at The Corner:

Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one’s sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.

She reads racial preferences and quotas into the Constitution, even to the point of dishonoring those who preserve our public safety….

I’d quote more, but Long goes on to try to gin up a 9/11 sympathy tour as justification for mischaracterizing Sotomayor’s record. These people are so predictable you could script it.  But resorting to the Guiliani "9/11, 9/11, 9/11" defensive canard to buck up your argument is such a pathetic sign of weakness, it’s hard not to just sit here and laugh out loud.  Pitiful.

I’ve been pulling Sotomayor opinions since Obama was elected — she was likely on the short list and I like to do my homework — perusing her legal language and trying to get a feel for her judicial temperament and adherence to precedent, facts and law versus outside considerations. 

From what I can see, with very few exceptions, she plays it down the middle for the most part — sticking with the statutory law, the prior precedents and the underlying court findings where appropriate.  Which is exactly what you want from a judge when you are arguing an appellate case: predictability under the law, with just enough wiggle room to be able to argue your case to a mind that isn’t closed to your nuances.

But there are cases where the wingnuttiest will try to make hay. 

And one of the more prominent, which is already being blast faxed to teevee media based on a short review of which cases are being mentioned prominently this morning, is the Ricci case. No surprise, there, given that the Ward Connerly types at the American Civil Rights Institute and the Federalist Society/Corner folks have been all over this for a while (with little traction outside the usual suspects, I might add).

Has the GOP decided to just replay the Helms "hands" ad (YouTube) as their big strategery? Honestly?!?

I think Anonymous Liberal’s take on how the nomination dance will play out is still spot on:

The process will go something like this. First, Obama will nominate someone with impeccable legal credentials. Then, conservative "legal experts" like Crazy Ed Whelan will dig around and come up with some issue they find "very alarming." That criticism will undoubtedly involve a willful misreading of some prior judicial opinion or legal paper, but that won’t stop the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world from seizing on it and hyping it relentlessly. Ultimately, most Republicans in the Senate (with the possible exception of Senators Snowe and Collins) will cave to the Limbaugh wing of the party and vote against confirmation. The nominee will be confirmed by a 60-39 margin.

But I’m sure all the pre-nomination right-wing hoo haw has nothing whatsoever to do with self-serving political fundraising.  No siree.

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