Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Conservatives should probably be glad of Sotomayor nod
There is something to be said for letting one's opponents take their bitter with their sweet. Our young President's nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the SCOTUS would seem to have some of both. On the one hand, she is Hispanic, a woman, and has the most compelling personal story of any nominee to the Supreme Court since Clarence Thomas. (Shocking that no one has mentioned that.) On the other hand, if Jeff Rosen's reporting is to be believed, she is not a judicial luminary, and is unlikely to stack up intellectually to Roberts, Alito, Scalia, or maybe Thomas on the one hand, or Breyer or Ginsberg on the other. It sounds moreover like her personality might come in at something less than compellingly charming.
I think someone who would fit the mold of "someone as smart as Cass but more unambiguously on the left" is William A. Fletcher on the 9th Cir (perhaps not quite as smart - but no dummy either)
Posted by: Alex | May 27, 2009 11:28:53 AM
As smart as Cass Sunstein but unambiguously on the left? That's easy: Catharine MacKinnon. (Mind you, she's not a coalition-builder, nor even always a civil discussant, but she's definitely very smart.)
William Fletcher was my property professor at Boalt. I never thought of him as particularly brilliant, but it may have been either the material or the students that dimmed him. (Don't get me wrong, I liked him and I liked the course, I just didn't see him as a great mind.)
Posted by: y81 | May 27, 2009 11:53:36 AM
Wouldn't Larry Tribe qualify as being "as smart as Cass but more unambiguously on the left"? Perhaps he's too old.
Posted by: DJF | May 27, 2009 10:03:41 PM
The Miers-Alito gambit was a special case. Some of us believe that Miers had been what military tacticians call an economy of force operation, that is a secondary effort with the limited objective of influencing the outcome elsewhere, at the real point of decision. Think of Thermopolae, or the Alamo. Were these "fiascos," or were they war-winning delaying operations?
The Miers nomintion did two things. It focused the debate over confirmation on qualifications, with respect to which Alito was quite strong, and it "attritted" opposition resources of time, money, and, most of all, public and media attention. By the time Alito came up, the country was tired of hearing about judges, and Alito more or less breezed through.
That said, there is no comparison between Sotomayer and Miers, I agree that Sotomayer is a good pick from the conservtive point of view, but Miers was so far from being well-qualified--almost Carswell caliber--that I am surprised more people had not seen the con.
Posted by: Lou Gots | May 28, 2009 7:42:50 AM
Lou, if Miers allowed herself to be used this way, it indicates a tremendous lack of respect for the nominating process (as well as for herself).
But I doubt this was the case; these sorts of schemes work out better in novels than in real life.
Posted by: DTH | May 28, 2009 11:41:21 AM
For all the wonderful and enchanting things about our current President, I'm really not impressed with his big picks thus far. For example, any objective person has to come to the conclusion that Biden was not a competent selection. Sure Obama won the election but Biden was a terrible choice for VP. The Treasury Secretary was also another bad choice.
Sotormayor is a mediocre choice. Sure she is capable and will be adequate but she is hardly the best choice for liberals. She is better than Harriet Miers but she is no Roberts. From a conservative standpoint, it could be worse or it could be much better. I'm not surprised by it. Obama is the President and he gets to pick 'em.
Posted by: anon | May 27, 2009 9:50:15 AM