Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scare Tactics

There are a lot of articles on the Sotomayor hearings, as you might expect. With the Republicans/Conservatives pretending that the Moderate Obama is practically a Stalinist, it's not too hard for them to approve the balanced Sotomayor is a fringe and somewhat crazed judge. One example comes from Horace Cooper, in which he trots out the standard arguments.

He references the Wise Latina, but like all conservatives, leaves out the context. For those who don't know the quote, while a bit further than I would go, was basically saying that her experience brings some value to the role of judge. In a judicial system, that by any measure, treats blacks and Hispanics differently than it treats whites, and treats the poor differently than it treats the wealthy I don't know what's so controversial about saying that.

And then he brings up the line about the courts of appeals being where policy is made. And he takes this further out of context. Again Sotomayor was asked what is the difference between Courts of Appeals and other courts, and what she said is, in reality, completely non-controversial. But Cooper, of course, reads it as a prescription for activist courts.
. . . policy making is among the least appropriate practices of the judiciary and her comments raise the question as to what policies will be promulgated and for whose benefit and perhaps most importantly if the U.S. Constitution and American law won’t be used, on what will she use instead as the basis for these policymaking decisions?
Except that of course precedent is a key part of our legal system. Yes the Congress passes the laws, but interpreting them often falls to the courts. And that's where Sotomayor is, naturally, completely right in noting that they are required, in listening to their cases, to decide what that precedent is going to be. And they determine that precedent by referring to the Constitution and American Law.

What exactly is controversial about that?

He also pads out his article by talking about a Clinton era appointee who he sees as similar; subtly equating the two, although it's clear she went a good deal farther than Sotomayor.

I do think it's interesting that in her legal decisions, with the exception of Ricci (in which they believe she should have had empathy for a white fireman and ruled in his favor regardless of the law), they aren't finding anything. She wasn't appointed yesterday. You'd think with that record they'd have more substantial criticisms, but I guess not.

For more on the court of appeals policy quote, check out this post at the Huffington Post.

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