Sotomayor – Break Her and You Die
At 10:13 A.M. on May 26, President Barack Obama introduced to a breathless nation, a fawning audience, and a mesmerized press, his selection to replace retiring U. S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter – Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of New York.
By sheer happenstance, I was wandering by the television set just as I heard the president empathetically praise “…her own extraordinary journey... she was raised in a housing project … her mother as part of the Women's Army Corps… Sonia's father was a factory worker with a third-grade education who didn't speak English… When Sonia was nine, her father passed away. And her mother worked six days a week as a nurse to provide for Sonia and her brother…”
As I paused for a moment to sing “America the Beautiful” and study the television screen through my tears, to my bewilderment, I noticed that the words at the bottom of the screen said that the object of the president’s saccharin, tear-jerking acclamation was his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court – and – indeed – not a successor to Mother Theresa.
Well, let there be no doubt that barring someone coming up with “photos of Sonia Sotomayor abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, she will almost certainly be the next Supreme Court justice,” to paraphrase Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
Considering the populist popularity of our empathetic president, the not-so-minor matter that the Democrats have 59 seats in the Senate, and the fealty relationship this president has with the traditional elite media – even if it were to be discovered that Judge Sotomayor smoked pot with Douglas H. Ginsburg and his students at Harvard Law School – she will still be confirmed.
If you recall, it was Nina Totenberg, of National Public Radio, who dug-up that little gem on Judge Ginsburg, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, after President Ronald Reagan nominated him to fill the seat of retiring Justice Lewis F. Powell, in 1987.
One may be sure that no such digging by the media will occur into Judge Sotomayor’s past, except to find more accolades in her life story, which might be easily compared to that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Or, do you remember that during the confirmation ordeal of Judge John Roberts, the New York Times stooped so low that it requested the release of the sealed adoption records of the Roberts family.
Speaking of Judge Ginsberg, remember his nomination came right after the Democrats eviscerated Judge Robert Bork in 1987 – introducing the term “Borked” into the political lexicon.
In an editorial Monday in the Wall Street Journal recalled that “the abuse suffered by that good man is a still suppurating wound within the GOP…”
Who can forget Massachusetts’s Democrat Sen. Ted Kennedy’s “intemperate and unjust words about ‘Bob Bork's America’ and ‘back-alley abortions’ and blacks turned away from lunch counters,” as recounted by The Wall Street Journal?
Judge Sotomayor could speak in tongues, have her head swivel and spew pea soup at the confirmation hearings – and she will still be confirmed.
She will walk across the water at the reflecting pond to the hearings as she studies her notes for the measurements of the curtains for her new office at One First Street, Northeast, Washington.
What a difference an election makes for situational ethics. Who will ever forget the absolutely cringe-worthy confirmation hearings of Judges Roberts and Samuel Alito?
Perhaps one of the more pathetic moments in Senate judicial committee hearings history came as Judge Alito was being excoriated during the third day of his hearings when Sen. Richard Durbin (D., IL), Kennedy, and then-Sen. Joe Biden each questioned Alito about his membership in the long defunct “Concerned Alumni of Princeton.” The senators each took turns calling Judge Alito a low-life racist bigot and Judge Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann, left the hearing in tears.
Senators Durbin, Kennedy, and Biden were so proud. Liberals howled with delight.
Oh, that’s right, President Obama, according to ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper, asked in his weekly remarks, if “we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past.”
Mr. Tapper then reminded us that President Obama is “the first U.S. President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.
“On January 29, 2006, the now president but then Illinois’ Sen. Obama told George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’ that he would ‘be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values, you know…’”
You know, Mr. President, we don’t know.
Writing for Politico, Manu Raju noted that “New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says if Republicans oppose Sonia Sotomayor, they'll do so at their own peril.”
Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal on May 28:
“The media has also quickly adopted the story line that Republicans will damage themselves with Hispanics if they oppose Ms. Sotomayor. But what damage did Democrats suffer when they viciously attacked Miguel Estrada's nomination by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second-highest court?
“New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was particularly ugly, labeling Mr. Estrada a right-wing ‘stealth missile’ who was ‘way out of the mainstream’ and openly questioning Mr. Estrada's truthfulness.”
Nevertheless, anyone who dares to challenge Judge Sotomayor during the hearings will be marginalized and demonized by the media. It is one of the best examples of political checkmate in modern history.
This one is lose-lose. Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Just move along folks. Nothing to see here.
The Wall Street Journal said it best in the editorial Monday: “Politically she's like a beautiful doll containing a canister of poison gas: Break her and you die.”
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.