From the Bronx to the Court

By Al Giordano

The White House announced at 8:32 a.m. ET:

Washington, D.C. – The President will make an announcement regarding his nomination for the Supreme Court at 10:15AM EDT in the East Room.

The event will be open press.

The media speculation is rampant that the President will announce US Court of Appeals Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 54, for the bench. Daughter of a single mother from the Bronx, graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School, Sotomayor has suffered diabetes since childhood.

The early launch is consistent with administration statements that they want to steer her nomination through for Senate approval before the August 8 summer recess. Republicans - and their interest groups, for whom a Supreme Court nomination battle can be lucrative in direct mail and other fundraising - will try to slow down the process, even as they don't have the votes in hand to stop it.

Sotomayor was nominated to the US District Court, at the age of 35, in 1991 by then-president George H.W. Bush, Sr. and to the US Court of Appeals (Second District) by then-president Bill Clinton in 1997.

This is the first of what will likely be at least three high court appointments by President Obama.

Thus begins what Michael Tomasky calls "the Summer of Shove."

Update: Glenn Thrush at Politico has some interesting stats from Sotomayor's 1997 confirmation vote in the Senate:

Seven current Senate Republicans — plus Arlen Specter — voted for Sonia Sotomayor during her highly contested federal appeals appointment in Oct. 1998...

Sens. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) joined a unanimous slate of Dems in pushing Sotomayor through by a vote of 68-28.

Among the 29 Republican nays were current Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.), Minority Whip John Kyl (R-Ariz.), ranking Judiciary Committee member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)...

she's the first Hispanic to be nominated for the high court — and every GOP leader with a pulse knows that opposing her could accelerate the stampede of Latinos out of the GOP in the southwest, west and Texas.

McCain, who has been extraordinarily sensitive to those trends (if unable to fight them) might be the real bellwether here: He's been a pretty reliable GOP soldier on SCOTUS, so if he breaks from his party early — or had really nice things to say about Sotomayor — it could be a sign that Sotomayor will have an easy time.

Also look out for what associates of Daddy Bush (Jim Baker, etc.), who first appointed her to the federal bench, have to say.

Play ball!

Update II: Here's a photo of the Bronxdale housing projects where Sotomayor grew up: 28 seven-story buildings constructed in 1955 along Bruckner Boulevard...

While the media talks endlessly about her roots as a Hispanic American of Puerto Rican descent, the unspoken fault line surrounding this nomination will be the related one of economic class. The debate over the President's call for a Supreme Court justice with "empathy" will be code for the class war waged by some Republicans against her nomination to a court that has long been the domain of the children of the elites. A word to the wise is sufficient: Louisville Sluggers have long been used in Yankee Stadium, too.

Update III: Pigs fly! Greenwald likes the President's call!




Here we go...

I heard the news today, oh boy.  Here's what I'm waiting for: Some goof ball will actually bring up her diabetes as a problem.  As a diabetic, I hope that someone with this disease will in a position to "stand up" for folks like me with chronic disease via the Court.  You know some of that "empathy" and compassion for the citizens of this country, like Obama said.   



My diary on this

Just thought I'd cross-post a diary I wrote on this at Kos, which is now on the recommended list.

True Colors

It's telling that her story mirrors that of the POTUS. Experience is the true bedrock of empathy, after all.

On the flipside, I can't wait to see the crazies out themselves as xenophobes when they go after her diabetes, her ethnicity, or her gender. From all appearances, she seems as good of candidate for the SCOTUS as we've seen in decades - and I speak as an admirer for Justice Roberts' intellectual capacity. I can't wait for her nomination hearings. I'm hoping she schools the Republicans as badly as John Roberts schooled the Democrats.

I just can't get over a really smart and active POTUS.

different issue


I wasn't sure how to comment otherwise on the website. I was wondering whether you or one of your other reporters could comment on the Globovision licence thing with that earthquake and Chavaz. I know there is a longer history to it. I have read other things on here about the media in Venezuela but would like if there was more analysis on this. I have been trying to defend Chavaz to a number of people, and this latest episode has given them more to counter me with, but I feel I cannot respond because I don't know enough or whether Chavez is justified. 



Here we go....

Listening to msnbc:


While they seem to singing her praises, virtually all of their discussion regarding her decisions centers on affirmative action, especially the New Haven firefighter case.  The constitutional professor, a frequent commentator - can't remember his name - (his name starts with a T, I think) suggests that the intellectual judicial community will be disappointed with the selection because, essentially she is very smart but not intellectually brilliant!!!

Maybe I'm being too sensitive here, but I see some of the same 'stuff' seeping through.

More poutage?

Just read Jim's diary referenced above and some of the comments.  While his comments don't display 'outrage', I couldn't help but think about Al's blogs on progressive poutage especially the last one posted a few days ago.   It would be interesting to really flush out the 'gruff' description - one of the adjectives used to describe her judicial temperment and he also felt that she wasn't an intellectual heavy weight.

I'm not trying to pick on this particular diarist as I have read several articles basically saying the same thing.  But reading some of the Sotomayer criticisms through a progressive poutage lens makes me say hmmm....

A happy start to a tense day here in CA

My Nuyorican husband and I were tremendously moved by Sonia's life story and couldn't be prouder.

And we're less than 90 minutes away from the CA SC's decision wrt Prop 8 and the continuing legality of our own marriage, so we "get" how the decisions of a court impact the lives of real everyday people, thank you very much...

@Jim, 9:07

I'm glad she's not a "blazing intellectual," as Jonathan Turley stated. Actually, this is his personal opinion to which he is entitled. Me personally, I doubt she would have had her accomplishments without some ability to think. Moreover, I'm weary with the heavy intellectuals who can discuss law divorced from ways in which their judgments affect the lives of people impacted by those decisions. If she can make a common sense, principle call driven by the rule of law, then she's OK with me.


Carolinhouston, you raise an interesting point: do we even want an "intellectual"?

Sometimes that term really does imply a person who is not grounded in reality.  Sotomayor, on the other hand, certainly has a biography that would suggest she is more than the ivory-tower type.

My concern primarily is whether she will be reflexively pro-government, as I sense that attitude when she deals with criminal cases. 

I also think it's fair to consider her possibility for growth: over time, she may be capable of finding a more populist voice.  And maybe if I had Obama's opportunity to interview and quiz her one-on-one, I would see that potential too.

thanks Al. Good column

And, I just don't think the GOP will be able to help themselves, the little dears.

Sotomayor "reflexively pro-government"?

Jim - I can't think of any judges that have not ruled in favor of the prosecution sometimes.

Al Rodgers makes an interesting point today over at Daily Kos:

In a 1993 drug case, threw out evidence obtained in a search because a police detective had lied to obtain the search warrant.

Defense agreed to plea bargain, but at sentencing, Sotomayor criticized the severity of the five-year sentence that the federal guidelines required her to impose. She told the defendant, "The only statement I can make is, this is one more example of an abomination being committed before our sights. You do not deserve this, sir."

Jeff Sessions screamed about this at her confirmation hearings, in 1998, saying, she had no respect for the law.

I find that quite encouraging, especially the implicit critique of mandatory sentencing overall.



Republicans & "Up or Down Vote" for judicial nominees.....

Media Matters has compiled some videos of Republican senators whining about the "Up or Down Vote" for judicial nominees back in 2005.   It's priceless. Let's see if anyone else in the media (print, cable, etc) or the Democrats will point out the hypocrisy.

The Media Matters videos are also referenced in a post at dailykos entitled: "Eat your words, republican hypocrites",-republic...



Counting down

In my head, I'm counting down until the first horribly inappropriate right-wing cartoon portraying Sotomayor as a domestic.


In 5... 4... 3..

Re: assessing how pro-government judges are

It is truly difficult to sort out the "reflexively-pro government" judges from those who merely rule in favor of the government often, when it comes to criminal cases.

Undoubtedly, most federal appellate judges rule against criminal defendants in 90% of the cases.  That does not alone make them unfair.

But some judges simply appear more willing than others to subject the government to genuine scrutiny. Sonia Sotomayor has never impressed me as such a judge.

On the other hand, it's also possible that she didn't think my cases in particular were worth it.  An appellate judge I used to work for (in state court) often lamented that he did not want to waste time being the "lone voice in the wilderness," so he would not make his views apparent (or loudly apparent) unless they really mattered.


Oh my goodness

OMG - she lived in the projects

OMG - she is Catholic

OMG - she is female

OMG - she is Latino

OMG - she graduated from those elitist north-eastern liberal universities.

What a delightful addition to bring prespective, wisdom and judicious judgement to our highest court. And, the constitutional law "lecturer" chose her.

Today's announcement brought tears to this golden oldie's eyes.

@Lorie @John N.

Exactly. Even before she was nominated the right wing and the media that parrots their talking points seemed to be stuck on the racially-charged "angry Latina" fallacy, speculating endlessly about her "temper" as it applies to her ability to be a judge. (I can even see hints of it from the left now.) Buckle up folks.

Joy and Sadness and Joy Today...

I am VERY happy with Judge Sotomayor's nomination...Rushbo and Mitt and others have already started with their venom...

Boo to CA SC...the fight continues...there is NO place for double standards in this country...

At least our beloved Alan's marriage rights are "safe", but in actuality, no one's rights are safe until everyone's rights are safe...


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!



Jim and I had exchanges over Sotomayor awhile back on Al's previous Supreme Court diary. I respect where he is coming from but have to say that I am thrilled at this pick and very proud today.

Also, do the Republicans really want to reject the first Latina Supreme Court nominee as an "affirmative action" pick? An act of electoral suicide.

@ Pamela

The Double Standard.  I must say that the 18,000 folks who were able to get married have perhaps, set a precedent of sorts for the future of who can be married, by possibly forcing this to the federal level. The double standard:  ok for some, pre-prop 8, but by voter referendum not ok for others?  I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but this has such implications for the civil rights of all involved, not only in CA but throughout the country.


"What's good and just for one is good and just for the other."  

White Shield, Arikara 


Ron Kuby wants the Republicans to know

"Sotomayor Never Released Any of My Clients!"


Democrat for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)

Here's the kicker on this nominee.

The Republican operatives will know that they need to take a pass on this one; but grassroots operatives like Limbaugh? He's called Judge Sotomayor and President Obama racists today; and that's the opening pitch, lol. This is going down a bad path for the Republicans and you can see the fault lines already: the senators all said we're waiting and looking but this doesn't sound good and hey did you hear she said judges make policy! And Limbaugh and NRO and the like are out there saying she's a racist; hitting the New Haven affirmaive action case (were she was in the majority with white jurists!) and saying this proves everything we said about that communist Muslim socialist facist Barack Hussein Obama.

It's music to my ears.

The Republican party is going to marginalize itself attacking a woman who brought tears to so many eyes telling her story and lauding her working class immigrant widowed mother who worked two jobs to support her and saying she was half the woman her mom was.


That'll be the death knell for 2010.

Charlie Crist must be pulling his hair out; he's stuck btwn wingnuts in the primary and a general election that's impossible if he comes out against Sotomayor.

Jeffrey Rosen and Sotomayor

You gotta love the hubris from the guy repsonsible for creating the She's A Total Intellectual Lightweight meme:

"Of course, Judge Sotomayor should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. She obviously wasn't my first choice, for reasons I reported three weeks ago, having mostly to do with concerns about her temperament reported to me by former clerks and New York prosecutors. But I hope and assume the White House wrestled seriously with those questions of temperament and weighed them against Sotomayor's other obvious strengths."

He hopes the White House wrestled seriously with his . . . gossip? WTF?! The fact that Obama totally blew this guy off should be an encouraging sign to all that we have a president who doesn't take his marching orders from the Village Elders. Gobama! And Sotomayor!


Another point

Ward Connerly and his ilk couldn't even get a ban on afirmative action passed in Colorado last year, and that was after deciving thousands of people into signing petitions to put the measure on the ballot. I just don't think its a major issue when people are worrying about keeping a roof over their heads. So by all means, the GOP should make it their center piece.

Not so hot on 1st Amendment

Upheld School District's (mild) punishment of a highschool student for off-campus speech.


Democrat for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)

some other descriptions of Sotomayor's rulings

Wall Street Journal:

In 2007, Ms. Sotomayor sided with the fishes and against power companies

Sports Illustrated:

In both of those rulings, Sotomayor stood firmly behind labor unions and a support for the collective-bargaining process.


Republicans Got Played

Now that I'm thinking about it guys, it seems to me that the GOP got played by the WH since the announcement of Judge Souter retirements.

Before Obama ever picked his nominee, they gave away their ammunition.  The let the admin know what they would attack on.  You don't give away your playbook to the opposing team.

Hell, even <a href="">Gibbs was ready for the questions about Sotomayor</a>.

Just received a letter about this announcement as well.

Nice to keep people in the loop.

As some people have commented already, it would be interesting to see the GOP attack judge Sotomayor, I'm sure Latinos will be very happy about this and will come out to vote for them en masse come the next elections. I guess President Obama did pay attention that during his campaign there were many people making phone calls for him and in español...

Who cares?

Who cares about her background.  All that matters to me is her stance on key issues like Roe V. Wade, Corporate personhood, the environment, etc.  Will she choose people over government?  People over Corporations?  The planet over everything?

@ Orlando Sánchez

we can only hope Mr. Obama will become more open to actually solving our economic and social problems, not just making with the high flying rhetoric.  I know this is a minority opinion here, but I have to say, I'm not getting a whole lot for my shoe leather yet.


Maybe I just can't see the whole 8 dimentsion chessboard?


Added a bit more to the Fund for Authentic Journalism.  It was really refreshing today to read all the push back to Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic smear piece relaying anonymous "gossip" on Sotomayer.  And it didn't look to me like it was any sort of orchestrated "swarm".  People just read Rosen's article and apparently grabbed their key boards.  There does seem to be some shifting toward more Authentic Journalism.

Nuclear Option

The Democrats have quite appropriate stated that they will do healthcare without the Republicans if they wish only to be obstructive. Similarly, they should inform the Republicans that they will staff the Court without them, if necessary, say if the nomination process goes beyond 70 days. The Democrats have the muscle to invoke the Nuclear Option, if need be, so let's start the 2005 discussion up again.

Simply not perfect

As I continue to mull over this nomination, I realize that any disappointment I have merely reflects the scope of my ideals and hopes: knowing Obama's background, I guess I wanted an absolute superstar, someone akin to Brennan or Lawrence Tribe.  Instead, I feel that we merely got a reliable vote, albeit a perfect political choice.

I have continued to discuss Sotomayor with my colleagues who have appeared before her, both when she was a trial judge and while she was on the Second Circuit.  Most of these people are dedicated criminal defense lawyers, and predictably liberal.  They have echoed my concerns.  Despite her stellar credentials and moving personal story, she does not come across as a "deep thinker." And she's not merely gruff to lawyers, her demeanor does border on nasty at times.

Yet, my main point here is not to rescusitate those concerns, but to question whether they really matter. Certainly, how a S. Ct. Justice treats a lawyer has to rank as just about the least significant factor.  Infinitely more important is whether she can persuade Kennedy, Breyer and anyone else in the middle to go in a particular direction.  Indeed, I consider that much more important than the ability to formulate abstract theories or principles.  Scalia, for all his supposed brilliance,does not appear to be particularly successful when it comes to obtaining votes.

I also somewhat reassured to hear from people at the Second Circuit that Sotomayor is not unpleasant behind the scenes. Indeed, on a social level, I know many lawyers who describe her as very warm.  So perhaps she has "people" skills that are not apparent to outsiders, when she is on the bench.   Maybe she will share Brennan's ability to corral votes, even if she lacks his vision. And even if her background as a prosecutor makes her less than a friend to criminal defendants, she will probably be a solid vote on the left on most other issues.

Finally, I think I should also acknowledge that this selection may free up Obama to make his next pick a more daring one, if he is so inclined.  To me, she's not perfect, but there is a lot to feel positive about.

2nd Grade Photo can you find Sonia Sotomayor

Visit the follwing link to find Sonia Sotomayor

Jim, I appreciate your

Jim, I appreciate your thoughtful clarification of your nuanced thoughts on the Sotomayer pick.  I come here primarily for Al's analysis and take on things but I also read every single comment.  There's a wide array of talent among contributors and people are courteous to one another.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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