Justices

Exhibit 19.5

The Supremes


I love Supreme Court nomination hearings. I only barely remember watching some of Clarence Thomas’s, but that was all it took. Unfortunately, they’ve never been that explosive again–or involved a would-be justice allegedly describing pornographic films–but they’re still fun.

We’re a month or two away from Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings and unless something more shocking than her diabetes comes up, it’s looking like it will be a cakewalk. She’s clearly no Harriet Miers–or Clarence Thomas for that matter–and so far the arguments against her can basically be summarized thusly:

* She might not be smart – This is unrelated, but Clarence Thomas hasn’t asked a question during oral arguments since February 2006. Just saying.

* She too smart and therefore, as a woman, sort of a bitch – Something tells me this argument isn’t going to win anyone over.

* She’s racist – ?

What’s clear at this point–other than one political party apparently having decided to add Hispanics and women to the list of groups they don’t want votes from–is that Sotomayor is sharp and aggressive and proud of her heritage (as she should be). The same could be said of Justice Alito who spoke quite proudly about his roots as the son of Italian immigrants at his confirmation hearings.

(Also interesting is that Alito and Sotomayor share an identical educational trajectory – undergraduate degrees from Princeton and then law school at Yale where both were editors of the Yale Law Review [Alito graduate from law school in ’75, Sotomayor in ’79]. Remember how everyone said Alito was an unintelligent, affirmative action case? Oh, right, that never happened).

What’s so sad and predictable about the identity-based attacks on Sotomayor is that it was the last administration’s actions that forced this nomination. Somehow by floating Alberto Gonzalez’s name and briefly nominating the unconfirmable Miers, we all shrugged our shoulders as two more male whities were confirmed and the court grew even less representative of the country. Poor Ruth Bader Ginsberg has spent the last few years looking like she’s about to Pelican Brief a colleague or two herself if things didn’t change. Obama really had no choice but to nominate a woman and, with no guarantee of getting to select a second justice (though it’s likely), a minority woman was as inevitable as it was the right thing to do.

Which is not to say Sotomayor doesn’t deserve her spot–she’s done more to deserve it than just about anyone currently on the court from the looks of things–just that it’s unfortunate a nominee who will make the court look more like America gets criticized for those very qualities. Where the right is wrong is in assuming those are the qualities that make her weak when the truth is exactly the opposite.

Oh, and she saved baseball. So there’s that.

6 Comments / Posted in Courts, Justices, Politics

Exhibit 19.1

Things I’ve Been Reading Recently

* Nick Flynn’s Some Ether – I really, really like this book. It looks like I’ll never get around to doing a full writeup of this one, but that’s probably for the best. Every time I try, I end up writing, “I really, really like this book.” and then stopping.

* Jeffrey Toobin’s article on John Roberts – The worst part is that we all knew he was this guy. There was never any doubt that Roberts was not only very conservative–which is fine, it was Bush’s call–but also unprecedentedly political after his years in the White House. All throughout the hearings he gave answers like this one:

“If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy’s going to win in court before me,” Roberts said. “But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy’s going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution. That’s the oath.”

I mean, nobody believed this. So naturally we now have 5,000 word articles expressing shock–shock!–that Roberts maybe wasn’t what he said:

In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

Jesus, it’s like he said what everyone wanted to hear then changed once he had a lifetime appointment. If only there was a group of people who could have gotten together–a sort of congress, if you will–and done something about this. Oh well.

* Higgs’s interview – Good stuff and not just because I always get to imagine him rolling his eyes at my political talk. I like Chris.

* Dave’s new website – Finally, a place for Dave to share his thoughts on the television shows of the day in the most egotistical manner possible. I have this theory he chose .org because Dave thinks of himself not as something he has to sell to you (.com) but as something you have to volunteer and pay dues for, like the AARP. I like Dave.

* Play at This Recording – That’s a great website on any day, but it just so happens to feature pieces from Mathias’s new Cupboard today.

Things I’ve Been Listening to Recently

* The Nazario Scenario – My life has been much richer ever since I discovered how to subscribe to podcasts. This is always one of my favorites. It made me want to meet Amanda Nazario. Then someone told me I did meet Amanda Nazario. But, like, I think I’d meet her better this time. Okay, probably not.

* Danger Mouse’s Dark Night of the Soul – You can stream the entire album at that link since it’s apparently never going to be sold. Or maybe it will be sold but you have to ask David Lynch nicely or something. I don’t know, but I do know that it’s good. You should go listen to it.

* Rany Jazayerli’s Royals on the Radio – I don’t think you’re going to find a better radio show about the Royals hosted by a Muslim baseball statistician/dermatologist. Bold statement, I know. Unrelated to baseball, but his essay from the election which ended up on This American Life is still a must read.

Things I’ve Been Watching Recently

* Not much – But I did catch Frost/Nixon after Netflix skipped approximately 15 other movies in my queue (did that many other people really want to watch Bride Wars?). It was fine and sort of nondescript like Howard’s other stuff, but I just can’t get over the fact that its hero is someone that his most talented contemporaries passionately hate. Peter Cook and the entire cast of Monty Python, for example.

1 Comment / Posted in Justices, Links, The Cupboard