Donald Kaul has, over the years, become one of my favorites at And I love his ‘credentials line’ that is always at the bottom. Today I’m moving it to the top; Don Kaul is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-losing Washington correspondent who, by his own account, is right more than he’s wrong. ~sekanblogger

We’re about to see just how dumb the Republican Party in general, and conservatives in particular, really are. I’m betting pretty dumb. 

In one of his characteristically shrewd political moves, President Barack Obama last week nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor, for those of you who may not be up to speed on your Appeals Court Judges, is as close to bulletproof as you can get when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. First of all, she is Hispanic and a woman, both politically good things to be, given that there have been only two women on the court before her and no Hispanics. 

Second, she has a resume out of Horatio Alger. Grew up in public housing in the South Bronx. Lost her father at the age of 9. Won a scholarship to Princeton, that toffee-nosed bastion of the Establishment. Finished at the top of her class. Went on to Yale Law, where she was editor of the law review. 

Became a federal prosecutor in New York City. Later went into private practice, then on to the federal bench, first at circuit court level, then appellate. 

Academic credentials, practical experience, compelling personal narrative; she’s got it all. 

And Republicans are making noises as though they’ll oppose her nomination—indeed, perhaps block it—on grounds that she is a judicial activist. 

Senator Jon Kyl, a snarky Republican from Arizona, said as much. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee—what passes for leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination these days—have been singing the same song. 

”If she’s confirmed,” said Huckabee, “then we need to take the blindfold off Lady Justice.” 

There are times when Huckabee seems a perfectly sensible fellow and others when it seems his jockey shorts are too tight. 

For a long time now, Republicans have been riding the myth that liberals are judicial activists and Republicans never color outside the lines of the Constitution. It’s bunk. 

The conservative majority on the present court is about as activist as you can get, continually ignoring precedent in order to achieve a conservative result (as it did in handing the 2000 election to George Bush, for example). Conservatives also contend that the federal court system is shot through with activist liberals who insist on making law, rather than ruling on it and that only a Republican president can stop the onslaught. More bunk. More than two-thirds of the federal judiciary has been chosen by Republicans and it shows. We have a very conservative judiciary. 

They’re even saying that Judge Sotomayor really wouldn’t be the first Hispanic on the court, citing Benjamin Cardozo, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointee in 1932, as the first. Except that Cardozo came from a family of Sephardic Jews who had emigrated here from Portugal by way of England in the 18th Century. Some Hispanic. He wouldn’t have known salsa from seltzer. 

Personally, I kind of hope the Republicans do fight Sotomayor’s nomination to the bitter end. In the last election, John McCain drew 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, down from the 44 percent that Bush got four years earlier. What is the GOP doing, shooting for single digits? 

When Sotomayor arrived on the Princeton campus in 1972, she was one of only a handful of Hispanic students there. Alumni were still protesting the presence of women, who had been admitted to the school only a few years before. One of the protesters was now-Justice Sam Alito, Jr., who had graduated earlier that year. That’s what this nomination fight is about, not activism versus formalism, but a tired old conservative vision of society. Is it something run by an exclusive men’s club, or is it something in which a tough Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx can use her smarts to get a seat at the table? 

Absent tax problems or scandal, the Republicans are on the wrong side of this in every way you can be on the wrong side of something. Which is getting to be a habit with them. 


Filed under Obama, Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court

16 responses to “SOTOMAYOR: A TRAP FOR REPUBLICANS – by Donald Kaul

  1. lilacluvr

    I heard on yesterday’s news that Newt Gingrich has backed off his calling Judge Sotomayor a racist – although he still says that her words she used were ‘unacceptable’.

    Newt may be a Republican and he may not be the sharpest tool in the shed (in my opinion) but he does know how to play the political game. I think even Newt has seen the writing on the wall.

    So, he made this half-attempt at backing off sounding like a redneck hick? If you will notice, Newt is still saying that Sotomayor’s words she used are unacceptable.

    So is Newt still calling Sotomayor a racist or not?

    • “So is Newt still calling Sotomayor a racist or not?”


      Which do you prefer to hear? He has the bases covered. 😉

      • lilacluvr

        That was my thought too. Newt is still playing to his Conservative base because he wants to be president one day soon.

        Personally, I think that is why Newt converted to Catholicism recently – to get that pro-life vote.

        Nothing Newt Gingrich does would ever surprise me – he is also a political animal but he is the kind that slithers (in my opinion).

  2. I’m not pleased that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is political. I wish it could only be about the most qualified. However, who says it can’t be about BOTH the most qualified and the most politically expedient?

    The Votemaster had a take on this nomination:

    “By appointing a summa cum laude graduate from Princeton who has more experience on the bench than any Supreme Court nominee in 70 years and then having conservatives spew bile all over her for one sentence she said in Berkeley 8 years ago, all he has to do is stand by and watch as the few Latino Republicans left get disgusted and leave the party. It is not clear whether Rahm Emanuel or David Axelrod was the driving force here, but from a professional point of view, Karl Rove is no doubt impressed with how clever these guys are.”

  3. lilacluvr

    I love the fact President Obama is picking out certain Republicans to fill his Cabinet positions. This is driving the GOP nuts – and not to mention taking another Republican out of the Congress equation.

    Obama is a smart politician and he knows how to play the game. And, he plays it better than the GOP does.

  4. Obama’s Stealth War Against the GOP

    President Obama’s appointment of another Republican to become army secretary on Monday appeared to be an olive branch to the GOP, but was it really a Trojan horse? Politico looks at the appointment and suggests a “stealth war.” John McHugh’s appointment “burnishes [Obama’s] bipartisan credentials, opened up a seat prime for Democratic pickup and drained the GOP reservoir of one of the few remaining Northeastern moderates.” Politico extrapolates: “It’s an event that’s happening with enough frequency to suggest the presence of a design, a plan that not only sketches the outline of a reelection strategy but manages to drive a wedge into the opposition at the same time. … an audacious attempt by Obama to burn down any lines of escape for Republicans from their one refuge of popularity, the deep South.” Obama has reached out to Republicans like Ray LaHood, John Huntsman, Arlen Specter, Judd Gregg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Crist. “[I]t’s beginning to look like a strategy that isolates conservatives, reinforces the impression that the GOP is defined by the borders of the Deep South and all the while underscores Obama’s stated goal of working across party lines.”

    This is interesting too:

  5. jammer5

    Rush “flatulence in broadcasting” Limbaugh has now said she might make a good Supreme Court Justice. Imagine that.

  6. wicked

    Huh. Must be Rush’s idea of subterfuge. Too bad he’s so awful at it. LOLOLOLOL

  7. tosmarttobegop

    Rush basically said he could accept her being a racist if she is pro-life.

    OH the news was commenting on Newt and Rush and said that Limbaugh had soften his stance. Which of course suddenly brought to mind the following breaking new Items:

    NEWS FLASH!!!!
    Breaking news! Rush Limbaugh softens his stance on a liberal judge!
    On a possible related item, the Devil has been seen shopping for a winter coat!

    • djr4488

      LOL. I don’t listen to much in the way of “politcal commentary” from either side. I generally just go right up to the source and look for myself. But when people make fun of political commentators I get a good laugh usually. LOL

  8. Bad Biker

    One, if Sonia Sotomayor was a white, male Republican, the GOP would be falling all over themselves with praise for the nominee.

    Two, Barack Obama may be one of the most politically astute politicians in ages.

    Three, when MN finally gets through fiddle dicking around and seats Franken, the Republicans will be without recourse – 60 votes closes debate.

    Four, I truly HOPE that the GOP is seen to be attacking a Hispanic woman – two stones, one bird. They alienate women AND Hispanics. Their SOLID 22% will drop to about 12%.

    Go for it.

  9. I think the backing down of Gingrich and Rush displays desperation. They are between a rock and a hard place! I don’t think either man is truly stupid and they must realize they have to choose their battles carefully.

    What a conundrum —

    Any candidate that will please the 89% old white men base can only win at the primary level, and has zero chance at the general election. Any candidate that might attract Independents and Moderates can’t please the base enough to make it past the nomination process.

  10. I wonder how many of that 89% old white man base will die off before the next election?

  11. Laughing very very hard!!!

    C’mon, Sekan, surely you can get closer than three decimal points when you make an approximation type guess.

    Still laughing very very hard!

    If there are stupid typos, live with it. I;m old and can’t laugh this hard AND type!