Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor for SCOTUS Justice

Barack Obama, in his duties as president, has nominated federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace current Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who announced his plans to step down a few weeks ago. Sotomayor, if confirmed, would become the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Court.

Many conservative commentators are huffing and puffing over the nomination, especially over Obama's earlier remarks about adding a justice with "empathy" to the Court. The word is, to conservatives, code for judicial activism, which is a cardinal sin to anyone on the right.

Except, of course, when it benefits their cause. As Thom Hartmann pointed out on his radio program today, if you define activism the way that conservatives do -- as "legislating from the bench" -- then it is the conservative justices on the Court, not the liberal ones, who are the real activists.

According to a study from the American Prospect, from 1989 to 2005 the justices who were least likely to rule from the bench were the most liberal ones, while the most conservative justices did just the opposite, overturning executive and legislative directives more often than their counterparts.

What's more, those conservative justices were more likely to vote in favor of presidents who catered to their conservative ideology. Under both Bushes, "Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas voted in favor of the executive 65 percent" of the time, while voting in favor of the executive only 47 percent of the time under Clinton.

None of this matters to conservative commentators, of course, because all that matters is LIBERAL judicial activism. Will the new justice uphold Roe v. Wade? Will they undermine the traditional marriage? For God's sake, please don't let them take our guns away!

Joking aside, Sotomayor is likely to uphold Roe v. Wade. Her views on gay marriage aren't quite known yet, and it isn't likely that she'll be in favor of taking guns away from anyone, save convicted criminals. Her liberal record, in fact, isn't so liberal. For example, the gag rule put in place during the previous president's tenure -- essentially eliminating all aid to any foreign organization that supported abortion rights -- was upheld under one of her rulings. Obama lifted that rule shortly after taking office.

For all the attention she's getting from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and other extremist elements of the Republican Party, Sotomayor is really not that harmful to their cause. It's likely this is just another attempt by the right-wing to obstruct a plan or event that is meant to put Obama in a good light. It's too bad the Republican Party can't do something positive for once in order to get some attention.

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