President Obama has chosen his first Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, currently serving on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s not the progressive flamethrower some have wished for to get Scalia to STFU, but, more objectively, she’s very impressive. Judge Sotomayor, 54, grew up in a housing project in the Bronx, a short walk from Yankee Stadium, which perhaps had a bearing on her 1995 decision that ended the worst labor disagreement in the sport’s history, in favor of the players. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, edited the law review at Yale, and was first appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush.
Good luck stopping this one, Senator McConnell . . . .
BTW, it’s pronounced, so-toe-my-YORE.
UPDATE: The Hill’s blog has the Rs’ parrot points against Judge Sotomayor. Not the strongest points I’ve ever read. Big surprise; they’re going to say she’s a radical liberal. You might find it hilarious (I did) to read about how concerned they are that Court appointees arrive on the bench without an ideological agenda (like Justices Scaila, Alito, Thomas and Roberts, for examples). Keep in mind, btw, Judge Sotomayor’s selection to replace Justice Souter will not move the ideological meter on the Court very far:
RNC fumbles Sotomayor talking points
@ 10:56 am by Hill Staff
Whoops. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has apparently inadvertently released its list of talking points on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Included on the released list were a few hundred influential Republicans who were the intended recipients of the talking points. Unfortunately for the RNC, so were members of the media.
Here are the talking points:
o President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is an important decision that will have an impact on the United States long after his administration.
o Republicans are committed to a fair confirmation process and will reserve judgment until more is known about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views, judicial record and qualifications.
o Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor’s record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments – which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations.
o To be clear, Republicans do not view this nomination without concern. Judge Sotomayor has received praise and high ratings from liberal special interest groups. Judge Sotomayor has also said that policy is made on the U.S. Court of Appeals.
o Republicans believe that the confirmation process is the most responsible way to learn more about her views on a number of important issues.
o The confirmation process will help Republicans, and all Americans, understand more about judge Sotomayor’s thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court’s fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.
o Republicans are the minority party, but our belief that judges should interpret rather than make law is shared by a majority of Americans.
o Republicans look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views and to determining whether her views reflect the values of mainstream America.
President Obama on Judicial Nominees
o Liberal ideology, not legal qualification, is likely to guide the president’s choice of judicial nominees.
o Obama has said his criterion for nominating judges would be their “heart” and “empathy.”
o Obama said he believes Supreme Court justices should understand the Court’s role “to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process.”
o Obama has declared: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old-and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”
Additional Talking Points
o Justice Souter’s retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:
o Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;
o Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;
o Stripping “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;
o Abolishing the death penalty;
o Judicial micromanagement of the government’s war powers.
Daily Kos has a rundown of past voting on Judge Sotomayor’s appointment to the @nd Circuit Court of Appeals:
Sotomayor nomination: Gang of 14 breakdown
by David Waldman
Tue May 26, 2009 at 10:02:03 AM PDT
Today’s obviously going to be largely about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. And the Congress Matters angle will have to be about the voting, even though I don’t think there’s much question about how it’s going to go.
But let’s at least air it out as to why.
This morning’s events drove the braincasters on Twitter to wondering what the nettlesome middle-of-the-roaders like Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), etc. would do with this pick.
CQ Politics (in the person of Taegan Goddard) was at it early, too, with a Tweet announcing that it had found that seven current GOP Senators had voted against Sotomayor’s nomination to the 2nd Circuit in 1998. The roll call gives us the list, and reveals that the number is actually 11:
Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
The story with the count of 7 was pulled in favor of a version with the corrected count of 11.
As to the question of the Gang of 14, it turns out that only one member of the Gang — noted bitter curmudgeon John McCain — voted against her in 1998. Eight other Gang members who were in the Senate for the ’98 vote voted in favor: John Warner (R-VA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Dan Inouye (D-HI).
The other five members of the Gang weren’t yet in the Senate, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) — and of course two of them (Chafee and Salazar) no longer are.
It might be worth noting that the four members of the Gang (2D, 2R) no longer in the Senate have all been replaced by Democrats. John Warner (R-VA) by Mark Warner (D-VA), Mike DeWine (R-OH) by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) by Michael Bennet (D-CO).
Ironically, while this is going on, the current Court just moved further to erode our Constitutional rights:
Justices Ease Rules on Questioning Suspects
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:32 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a long-standing ruling that stopped police from initiating questions unless a defendant’s lawyer was present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.
The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agreed to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.
The court’s conservatives overturned that opinion, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying ”it was poorly reasoned.”
Under the Jackson opinion, police could not even ask a defendant who had been appointed a lawyer if he wanted to talk, Scalia said.
”It would be completely unjustified to presume that a defendant’s consent to police-initiated interrogation was involuntary or coerced simply because he had previously been appointed a lawyer,” Scalia said in the court’s opinion.
Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said the decision will have ”minimal” effects on criminal defendants because of the protections the court has provided in other decisions. ”The considerable adverse effect of this rule upon society’s ability to solve crimes and bring criminals to justice far outweighs its capacity to prevent a genuinely coerced agreement to speak without counsel present,” Scalia said.
The Michigan v. Jackson opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time. He and Justices David Souter, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the ruling, and in an unusual move Stevens read his dissent aloud from the bench. It was the first time this term a justice had read a dissent aloud.
”The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel,” Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, ”can only diminish the public’s confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice.”
The Obama administration had asked the court to overturn Michigan v. Jackson, disappointing civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.
The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision ”serves no real purpose” and offers only ”meager benefits.” The government said defendants who don’t wish to talk to police don’t have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers’ questions.
Eleven states also echoed the administration’s call to overrule the 1986 case.
The decision comes in the case of Jesse Jay Montejo, who was found guilty in 2005 of the shooting death of Louis Ferrari in the victim’s home on Sept. 5, 2002.
Montejo was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002 hearing, but never indicated that he wanted the lawyer’s help. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Montejo wrote a letter to Ferrari’s widow incriminating himself.
When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned in his absence. Police used the letter against Montejo at trial, and he was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence.
The Supreme Court sent the case back for a determination of whether any of Montejo’s other court-provided protections, like his Miranda rights, were violated.
The case is Montejo v. Louisiana, 07-1529.
BTW, on this day in history . . . .
Explorers Lewis and Clarke caught their first sight of the Rocky Mountains on their way to the Pacific, in 1805.
In 1896, the Dow Jones ticker first started ticking.
The first 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race got the green flag in 1923.
In 1959, Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix pitched 12 no-hit innings against the Braves, only to lose in the 13th, 1-0. (Cardinal pitcher Chris Carpenter now knows what Haddix felt; he took a perfect game against the Brewers into the 7th yesterday, but got zero run support, and the Redbirds lost in the 10th, 1-0).
In 1969, John and Yoko commenced their “bed-in” in the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal.
And in 1977, George Lucas solidified the concept of the summer special-effects blockbuster, releasing “Star Wars.”
Born this date:
Poet Alexander Pushkin, dancer Isadora Duncan, photographer Dorothea Lange, philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller, singer Peggy Lee, drummer Levon Helm, singer Stevie Nicks, Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, rocker Lenny Kravitz, and actors Marion Morrison (better known as John Wayne), Robert Morley, Peter Cushing, Jay Silverheels, James Arness, and Helena Bonham Carter.
And the word-of-the-day is swoopstake, meaning an indiscriminate action.