Yesterday’s opening session of the Sotomayor hearings did not reveal much about the nominee, but may have previewed each side’s strategy: Democrats will stress her biography and experience; Republicans will raise concerns about specific cases and quotes, but reserve judgment. I contributed additional analysis to the Washington Post‘s “Opening Arguments” blog here.
On thing that was interesting yesterday was how much time Democratic Senators spent talking about (and criticizing) Chief Justice Roberts and the current Supreme Court. (A point Jim Geraghty makes here.) Senator Charles Schumer, for instance, declared “any objective review of Judge Sotomayor’s record on the Second Circuit leaves no doubt that she has simply called balls and strikes for 17 years, far more closely than Chief Justice Roberts has during his four years on the Supreme Court.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) cited Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker profile of Roberts to challenge his judicial humility and modesty. Yet as I blogged several weeks back, Toobin’s article presents a distorted view of Roberts’ record. Sen. Whitehouse also decried the alleged “fundamental changes in the law wrought by the Roberts Court’s right wing flank.” Yet as I’ve discussed time and again (see here and here, for instance) the Roberts Court’s “right wing flank” has not wrought dramatic changes in the law (at least not yet).
UPDATE: Carissa Hessick further critiques the Toobin claim relied upon by Sen. Whitehouse here.