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Sotomayor's Nomination Approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee:

To no one's surprise, Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today, on a near party-line 13-6 vote (one Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, broke with his party and supported Sotomayor despite expressing serious reservations about her).

Despite this nearly-inevitable outcome, the hearings were far from a total loss for those of us who have serious doubts about Sotomayor's judicial philosophy and that of the president who selected her. Under questioning, Sotomayor was forced to repudiate two major precepts of liberal constitutional jurisprudence: reliance on "empathy" to help decide many important cases, and the use of international law as a tool for interpreting the US Constitution (except in very narrow and uncontroversial contexts, such as treaty interpretation). It's not every day that a Supreme Court nominee explicitly repudiates a central tenet of the judicial philosophy of the president who nominated her as clearly as Sotomayor did with empathy by stating that she "wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does." These concessions will make it harder for liberal jurists and political leaders to advocate empathy and international law in the future. If these liberal legal principles can't be openly defended by a minority nominee with an inspiring personal story, backed by a popular president, and facing an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate, it's not clear when they can be.

In addition, the hearings focused on property rights to a far greater extent than any previous Supreme Court confirmation fight. Both Republican and Democratic senators raised these issues. Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Committee, even went so far as to list Sotomayor's notorious anti-property rights decision in Didden v. Village of Port Chester, first among the dubious rulings justifying his vote against her nomination (I discussed Didden in this op ed, and much more extensively in my testimony before the Committee). All of this is an important step forward for those who want to raise constitutional property rights up from their current "poor relation" status in the federal judiciary. It marks the rise of property rights as an important enough issue that every nominee to the nation's highest court must at least consider them.

Overall, Judge Sotomayor's supporters have good reason to be happy with today's outcome, and she herself deserves congratulations. But the tactics she and the administration adopted to win this battle could make it harder for them to prevail in the longterm war over the future of constitutional law.

NOTE: My linking of Senator Sessions' op ed doesn't necessarily imply agreement with everything he said there. For example, I think it is unfortunate, though understandable, that he cast his objections to Sotomayor as a a critique of her "judicial activism" - a term that I think has lost most of its intellectual coherence. I cite the op ed only because it is one of several indications of the rising prominence of property rights issues during the hearings.

Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Nevertheless, I still feel disgusted and fearful that her nomination was allowed to pass. How safe is Lindsey Graham's seat, anyway?
7.28.2009 6:15pm
Steve P. (mail):
How safe is Lindsey Graham's seat, anyway?

Pretty safe — he won 58% to 44%, and that was last year, when everyone hated Republicans. Will this change any votes in 2014? I'm guessing not.
7.28.2009 6:24pm
Thoughtful (mail):
"Under questioning, Sotomayor was forced to repudiate two major precepts of liberal constitutional jurisprudence"

Not, of course, that this will make one whit of difference as to how she actually decides cases once affirmed to a life-long position.
7.28.2009 6:29pm
SFH:
How was she forced? Did you hold a gun to her head?
7.28.2009 6:36pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Meanwhile, back in the Dep't of Things That Actually Matter, SS was not forced to renounce the NCLR. And, here in the Department, that's going to have a much, much, much greater impact on your life than her repudiation of "empathy". A far-left racial power group might have a supporter on the highest court in the land, and no one tried to cut them off from her.

The reason that didn't happen is because the leaders to the opposition to Obama (very broadly defined) are incompetent and/or corrupt. The solution: find better leaders.
7.28.2009 6:38pm
NoPublic:
Of course the blind assertion that these are in any way precepts of either Obama or of liberal jurisprudence is unsupported by any actual facts. Tortuous parsing of text notwithstanding.
7.28.2009 6:39pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
1. It might also be helpful to point out to the libertarians that groups like the NCLR are close to the pinnacle of collectivism.

2. Let's all raise a glass to Orin Kerr!
7.28.2009 6:41pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Steve P.,

I should have made myself clearer. I meant from a Republican primary challenger.
7.28.2009 6:58pm
MCM (mail):
Perhaps he should have made himself clearer: unless Sotomayor does some very unconventional things on the bench, the average Republican* voter won't even remember her name in 2014.

(*I only specify Republican as you ask about the primary. I don't think the average Democratic voter would either.)
7.28.2009 7:05pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Somin:
Under questioning, Sotomayor was forced to repudiate two major precepts of liberal constitutional jurisprudence: reliance on "empathy" to help decide many important cases, and the use of international law as a tool for interpreting the US Constitution (except in very narrow and uncontroversial contexts, such as treaty interpretation).
Must be nice to tilt at windmills, Prof. Somin, and then declare victory, eh? Bet you'll enjoy your sweet Dulcinea.

Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?

As for the use of international law, why is that any more objectionable than state court decisions, law review articles, restatements, blog posts, or even past cases (stare decisis)? What's with this NIH antipathy you folks have? Anything like the current Republican attitude that if the Democrats want it, it must be "bad" (or at least opposed)?

Cheers,
7.28.2009 7:08pm
CJColucci:
Judge Sotomayor is a boring, conventional, mainstream judge from the Democratic side of the boring, conventional mainstream. I fully endorse the idea that Senators have as much right to take ideology into account when deciding whether to confirm a judicial appointee as the President has to take it into account when deciding whom to appoint. But I don't take that to mean that a Senator should routinely vote against a President's nominees merely because they aren't who that Senator, or a President of that Senator's party, would appoint. Most of the time, appointments should get the votes of a significant minority, and usually a majority, of the other side. Boring, conventional, mainstream Judge Sotomayor got ONE Republican vote from the Judiciary Committee. So why shouldn't President Obama, if he is so inclined, make his next appointment a liberal Bork or Scalia (if any such can be found in the applicant pool from which he is likely to pick) and ram it through on a party-line vote?
7.28.2009 7:20pm
SSFC (www):

Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?


In substance, that's what President Obama said.

Does that mean Sotomayor will become an originalist on the Court? No. Will her answers influence one vote once she's on the Court? No.

But it didn't help Obama's attempt to redefine arbitrariness as empathy, for the Stevens replacement battle coming next year.
7.28.2009 7:44pm
Crunchy Frog:

So why shouldn't President Obama, if he is so inclined, make his next appointment a liberal Bork or Scalia (if any such can be found in the applicant pool from which he is likely to pick) and ram it through on a party-line vote?

Because then red state Senators like Baucus and Nelson would cross party lines to quash the nomination in its cradle, or face losing their seats in the next general election.
7.28.2009 7:46pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

As for the use of international law, why is that any more objectionable than state court decisions, law review articles, restatements, blog posts, or even past cases (stare decisis)?



Somin's post is an example of ideological spin, to be sure. But the sentence quoted above from zuch has a simple answer. International law and the U.S. Constitution differ in significant respects, such as free-speech norms and specific criminal-justice norms (like having standing to object). Hence, it would not be proper to import international-law concepts into the Constitution, which I believe was set up as a closed legal system anyway.
7.28.2009 7:48pm
John Thacker (mail):

Most of the time, appointments should get the votes of a significant minority, and usually a majority, of the other side.


Yeah, most of the time. Of course, President Obama killed any chance of that as Senator Obama by voting against Justices Roberts *and* Alito.
7.28.2009 7:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
First, I think that Illya gets the idea of empathy as an element of liberal jurisprudence wrong. Liberal jurisprudence is fairly majoritarian* and progressive in terms of how it looks at rights. I.e. liberal jurisprudence looks which way the wind seems to be blowing and tries to further rights which appear to be necessary as social constructions. Liberal jurisprudence also tends to see an empowere judiciary as an important element in advancing social rights and social justice.

* See Stevens' dissent in Texas v. Johnson, for example. Also the obscenity exception to the first amendment is something which is a legacy of liberal courts' jurisprudence.

In this view, "empathy" isn't really about empathy but rather trying to draw what are arguably the wrong lessons from the civil rights era-- that empowered judiciaries should use foresight to avoid problems rather than hindsight to correct them. However, this isn't really what happened in the civil rights cases. In many ways, Brown v. Board was more of an outgrowth of Plessy v. Fergusson than it was a simple repudiation of it (both cases held that the 14th Amendment guarantees individuals a right to equal treatment by the states regardless of race, but the standards articulated in Brown had the benefit of more history).

"Empathy" is thus very much a codeword for advancing civil rights and liberties through judicial fiat. Unfortunately while there are some examples (bedroom being outside the reach of government regulation) of liberal jurisprudence which is pro-liberty, there are also areas where it is most certainly not (obscenity for example).

The conservative approach however is to see rights as constructs of tradition rather than contemporary society. While I don't think that this entirely excludes contemporary standards of decency from 8th amendment questions (because "cruel" and "unusual" have traditionally been interpreted according to such standards. Also if we adhere to strict construction and nonevolving standards, the electric chair would have been darned "unusual" in 1789 but beheadings not so much), it does serve to focus the larger questions of liberty into a historical rather than a contemporary model. Thus a progressive jurist is a servant to the future while a conservative one is a servant to the past.

This being said, my biggest concern about Sotomayor is that she is likely be extremely deferential to Congress (moreso than we need). I see her as a solid judge but one I would rather see left at the appellate level.
7.28.2009 7:55pm
zuch (mail) (www):
SSFC:
[zuch]: Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?
In substance, that's what President Obama said.
Oh. IOW, you say that's what Obama said (or meant). He actually said something else. You're entitled to your own opinion of what other people think, of course, but I'm entitled to ignore it as less than hearsay, too. But I'd note that Obama's not the candidate for the Supreme Court.

Cheers,
7.28.2009 7:58pm
zuch (mail) (www):
troll_dc2:
International law and the U.S. Constitution differ in significant respects, such as free-speech norms and specific criminal-justice norms (like having standing to object). Hence, it would not be proper to import international-law concepts into the Constitution, which I believe was set up as a closed legal system anyway.
Correction: It may not be proper to import these concepts (when they are at variance with what is already established under U.S. law). That doesn't mean that international law is entirely useless as a tool to understanding and deciding legal issues. It certainly doesn't mean we should behave like contrarian three-year-olds and do the opposite of what other countries do, just to show we're different and don't hafta....

Cheers,
7.28.2009 8:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
troll_dc2:

Somin's post is an example of ideological spin, to be sure. But the sentence quoted above from zuch has a simple answer. International law and the U.S. Constitution differ in significant respects, such as free-speech norms and specific criminal-justice norms (like having standing to object). Hence, it would not be proper to import international-law concepts into the Constitution, which I believe was set up as a closed legal system anyway.


However, is it improper to quote law review articles? Why? Why not? After all, law review articles and international court decisions or laws might well both be equally applicable to an issue of Constitutional interpretation.

Is it improper for the 2nd Circuit to quote a DC Circuit opinion? What about the Iowa Supreme Court quoting an Illinois Supreme Court opinion? How are these different from quoting international law?

My own view is that I would like to see secondary/persuasive sources separated from compelling sources in some bright way (for example, secondary sources relegated to footnotes, or putting a second section discussing secondary scholarship and related laws in the opinion) as a general practice. The problem with quoting international laws is not that it is methodologically incorrect per se, but rather that it is not bound by judicial methodology so there is a strong tendency to cite when it supports your case and ignore it when it doesn't (and attack the other side when they cite what you want to ignore). Without a clear identification to the reader, it leaves the wrong taste in many folks' mouth.
7.28.2009 8:04pm
Owen H. (mail):


Yeah, most of the time. Of course, President Obama killed any chance of that as Senator Obama by voting against Justices Roberts *and* Alito.



So what you're saying is, by voting against a nominee, for whatever reason, any nominee he makes himself should be opposed by the Republicans as a tit-for-tat? It's nice to see someone admit it.
7.28.2009 8:08pm
Ilya Somin:
Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?


How about President Obama himself, who famously said that "empathy" is crucial in deciding the most important 5 percent of constitutional cases.
7.28.2009 8:55pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
He was trying to ignore your last qualifier, Prof. Somin. That's why he chose to italicize the adjectives "decide" and "many".
7.28.2009 9:04pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think your blog is a product of wishful thinking Professor. Sotomayor will do what she thinks is right, regardless of what she told the Judiciary Committee. Just look at Roberts and Alito. My guess is that testimony before the Judiciary Committee may influence a reasonable and sincere nominee for about one year, and then he or she forgets the pledges made to Senators.
7.28.2009 9:29pm
DangerMouse:
I.e. liberal jurisprudence looks which way the wind seems to be blowing and tries to further rights which appear to be necessary as social constructions. Liberal jurisprudence also tends to see an empowere judiciary as an important element in advancing social rights and social justice.

That is complete B.S., because otherwise lib jurisprudence would embrace gun rights. The wind is blowing in the direction of gun rights, as more and more states have laws supporting open-carry, concealed carry, etc. Instead of looking at which way the wind was blowing, the libs were hoping that the Supreme Court would put a stop to gun rights.

that empowered judiciaries should use foresight to avoid problems rather than hindsight to correct them... Thus a progressive jurist is a servant to the future while a conservative one is a servant to the past.

Again, no. Libs on the court aren't anticipating rights that would apply to fetuses, which science has shown can remember things and feel pain. And libs certainly didn't show foresight by preventing democratic majorities from coming to their own solutions on abortion when the Court closed off all debate in Roe &Casey. Instead of avoiding problems, Roe exacerbated them (regardless of the intent). You'd think a lesson would be appropriate here, that libs shouldn't pretend that their policies are serving the future and instead represent an antidemocratic danger to society. But no, being a lib means never having to say sorry.

At least conservatives, by focusing on rights as part of the country's fundamental history &values, can point to something that's already agreed upon. Last I checked, the country still can't agree on abortion, notwithstanding libs on the Court trying to serve the future. What malarkey.
7.28.2009 9:34pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Somin:
[zuch]: Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?
How about President Obama himself, who famously said that "empathy" is crucial in deciding the most important 5 percent of constitutional cases.
Except he didn't say that. Nor did he say that for the 5% or so of difficult cases he was talking about, "empathy" alone is "crucial" (in fact he said something rather different).

Not to mention, he's not the ultimate 'authority' on what "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" is (if he had even claimed that this is what he was representing, which he didn't)....

You misrepresent what he said, I'm afraid. Why?

Cheers,
7.28.2009 10:07pm
Pyrrho:
As others have mentioned, the suggestion that empathy is a "major precept of liberal constitutional jurisprudence" is perhaps the most ignorant and dishonest thing I've ever seen written on here.
7.28.2009 10:28pm
Asher (mail):
Who ever said that "liberal constitutional jurisprudence" relied on "empathy" to help "decide many important cases"? Who ever said that Sotomayor did?


How about President Obama himself, who famously said that "empathy" is crucial in deciding the most important 5 percent of constitutional cases.


Obama is the leader of the liberal political movement, but I wouldn't take Obama's views, especially ones expressed in dumbed-down Senate speeches, to be representative of liberal constitutional jurisprudence. For that I think you have to look at people like Ronald Dworkin, Jack Balkin, Pam Karlan, Tushnet, Bruce Ackerman, so on and so forth. None of whom, so far as I'm aware, quite suggest using empathy to decide cases, though their results may largely coincide with the results of a Blackmunian "Poor Joshua!" empathetic approach. Moreover, as has been pointed out by so many in response to (my own party's) demagoguing of Obama's remarks on empathy, it's hard to judge without some amount of empathy. For instance, in cases of stigmatic or expressive injuries, if you can't put yourself in the head of the plaintiff and empathize with his stigma (which isn't to say that you let your sympathy for his injury decide the merits of the case), you may disregard or fail to understand his claim.
7.28.2009 11:11pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Surely there was no stopping Sotomayor from being confirmed, and Obama could have nominated far worse (and probably will in the future). What was important was to use the Sotomayor nomination to grind down some of Obama's political capital. That's been done.
7.29.2009 12:03am
gab:

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account

.

Liberal or conservative?
7.29.2009 12:33am
Let it go already:
There is no support for your position about empathy or international law, I checked the liberal manifesto. You lost the case, it's bound to happen, now let it go. You are obsessed with her. Win won for the Gipper, but please, on a new issue.
7.29.2009 12:46am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dangermouse:

That is complete B.S., because otherwise lib jurisprudence would embrace gun rights. The wind is blowing in the direction of gun rights, as more and more states have laws supporting open-carry, concealed carry, etc.


I am not quite sure. If civil rights are social constructions rather than traditional constructions, then the question is whether gun ownership rights are crucial TODAY for a free society. You can argue that they are a crucial check, but I don't think they are crucial at the moment. Certainly it is less critical than keeping the government out the marital bedroom and accompanying birth control choices.

I say this as a strong 2A supporter. I think that the 2A should be supported as a matter of tradition, but let's not forget that the English Bill of Rights spells out an individual right to keep and bear arms much more explicitly than the American one, and England has more onerous gun ownership restrictions.
7.29.2009 12:59am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Also to Dangermouse:

Do you think Pemberton v. Tallahassee Memorial Medical Center was a conservative or a liberal decision? Why?

certainly it acknowledged an unreasonable right to life on the part of the fetus-- that the birth process be less risky than commercial air travel (sorry, not ever going to happen).
7.29.2009 1:02am
zuch (mail) (www):
Allan Walstad:
What was important was to use the Sotomayor nomination to grind down some of Obama's political capital. That's been done.
Nice to see some honesty. Nice to see the Republicans shooting themselves in the face (rather than each other) as far as Latinos are concerned. Nice to see the Republicans openly admit that they just want to 'stop' Obama, stop whatever he tries to do, shoot his health care plan in Reno just to watch it die, tear him down and try to delegitimize him (like the "birther" crapola), etc. It lets people know what kind of people they are....

Cheers,
7.29.2009 1:05am
Mark N. (www):

Also the obscenity exception to the first amendment is something which is a legacy of liberal courts' jurisprudence.

How do you figure? Of the four solid liberals on the Court when Miller v. California (1973) was decided, for example, three (Douglas, Brennan, and Marshall) dissented, with only Blackmun joining the anti-free-speech side. Both solid conservatives, Burger and Rehnquist, were in the majority, with Burger writing the opinion.
7.29.2009 1:38am
Litigator-London:
The Victorian writer on the British constitutional settlement, Walter Bagehot, classified aspects of our constitutional processes as either 'dignified' or 'efficient'.

Having watched the Sotomayor confirmation process on-line, I did start to wonder whether the hearings could be classified as either dignified or efficient and I came to the tentative conclusion that they were neither.

I think the quite recent innovation of having the nominees testify in person before the Committee in open session was a retrograde step. All it seems to do is allow the senators to "grandstand" for their own electoral purposes. A 20th Century version of "bread and circuses" perhaps?

Still, if the outcome is that the public concludes, as I did, that Senator Sessions is a really nasty piece of work and that it was fortunate that his candidacy for high judicial office failed, I suppose that may be of some benefit.
7.29.2009 2:41am
Cornellian (mail):
For example, I think it is unfortunate, though understandable, that he cast his objections to Sotomayor as a a critique of her "judicial activism"

I suppose that would be an improvement over his prior technique, which would involve warning her to watch how she speaks to "white folks."

Any guesses on whether Sessions supported that bill that would have permitted someone with a concealed carry permit in one state to carry a concealed firearm in any state? Anyone think Sessions devoted a moment's thought to whether that bill was consistent with the original understanding of a limited federal government of enumerated powers? I didn't think so.
7.29.2009 3:25am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Obama is the leader of the liberal political movement, but I wouldn't take Obama's views, especially ones expressed in dumbed-down Senate speeches, to be representative of liberal constitutional jurisprudence. For that I think you have to look at people like Ronald Dworkin, Jack Balkin, Pam Karlan, Tushnet, Bruce Ackerman, so on and so forth.
Look, all of those are well-respected legal scholars of distinction (even if I think Balkin's version of originalism is disingenuousness squared and can't stand Ackerman's "constitutional moments"), but they're all scholars, not practitioners. Their very-well-thought-out, elegant views of jurisprudence don't necessarily have much to do with what liberal judges actually do or anything to do with which liberal judges actually sit on the bench.

It's not just Obama. Look at the confirmation hearings on Alito and Roberts, where numerous Democratic senators made a huge deal about their "heart."

Look at the public opinion polls posted by Orin here, where liberals were far more likely to argue that, forced to choose, judges should do what's "just" rather than what the law says. (e.g., here.)

None of whom, so far as I'm aware, quite suggest using empathy to decide cases, though their results may largely coincide with the results of a Blackmunian "Poor Joshua!" empathetic approach.
Blackmun explicitly said in the opinion "Faced with the choice, I would adopt a 'sympathetic' reading, one which comports with dictates of fundamental justice and recognizes that compassion need not be exiled from the province of judging."
7.29.2009 3:31am
Cornellian (mail):
For some reason, it just occurred to me that Lawrence Lessig would be a great, nomination if you're looking to surprise people and if you don't think the legal word revolves (or should revolve) around 2 or 3 constitutional issues with hot button culture war implications.
7.29.2009 3:38am
D.O.:
Prof. Kerr did use the case where the "bleeding heart" decision would be liberal, but it is not necesserily so. We saw it in Ricci case. There "bleeding heart" decision (correct or incorrect) was on conservative anti-affirmative action side. We can (well, I can not, I am not a lawyer) imagine situation where the law is clearly pro-affirmative action, yet essentially penalizes a very sympathetic person.
7.29.2009 3:57am
Brian Mac:

Nice to see the Republicans openly admit that they just want to 'stop' Obama, stop whatever he tries to do, shoot his health care plan in Reno just to watch it die, tear him down and try to delegitimize him (like the "birther" crapola), etc. It lets people know what kind of people they are....

A morally inferior kind to the Democrats, who at least had the decency to evaluate all the things that Bush did/proposed on their individual merits. Recalling that golden age of non-partisan politics brings a tear to my eye.
7.29.2009 4:29am
BGates:
Nice to see the Republicans openly admit that they just want to 'stop' Obama, stop whatever he tries to do, shoot his health care plan in Reno just to watch it die, tear him down and try to delegitimize him

Yes, it is. He's a terrible President. His major legislative accomplishment to date, the "stimulus", is either a complete failure or a complete fraud, depending on whether you believe what he said about it then or now. He stocked the Cabinet with tax cheats. He grovels to foreign tyrants and shows contempt for elected heads of state of our allies. He extravagantly spends taxpayer money on himself during what he's called the worst economy since the Depression. He quadrupled Bush's worst deficit in his first year. All his promises to be transparent, post-partisan, post-racial were lies. We'd be better off with Biden.
7.29.2009 8:14am
Per Son:
Brian Mac:

When was the "golden age of non-partisan politics"?
7.29.2009 8:43am
Andy L.:
The more important development/question for me is, does this mean Orin Kerr will be back soon?
7.29.2009 9:33am
Brian Mac:
Per Son:

That era spanned the sixteen glorious years of the Clinton and Bush-junior presidencies (don't listen to the revisionists).
7.29.2009 9:53am
rarango (mail):
Owen H: for all of sessions and grassley's words, I think it does come down to: Yeah--we dont her and we are voting against her--its the standard set by former Senator Obama, and it is most precisely tit for tat--Its called politics, and politics hang over the judicial nomination procedure. Can we call it, say, the Obama standard?
7.29.2009 9:56am
rarango (mail):
Zuch--while I dont like the republicans, I like the Obama administration even less--and I would hope the republicans do everything that is legally in their power to bring his administration down. That's called politics, and politics aint bean bag. I would hope thats what the opposition party does--this idealisitic view of bi-partisanship never exited in american politics.
7.29.2009 10:03am
Sarcastro (www):
Whenever someone is doing things I disagree with, I try my best to destroy them, no matter what!

It's for the good of everyone else!
7.29.2009 10:11am
Per Son:
Brian Mac:

Politics in general, or just judicial politics, or the narrowist of Supreme Court politics?

Can't say any was very non-partisan from my recollection.
7.29.2009 10:43am
Brian Mac:
Per Son:

Politics in general. I mean sure, I always had the nagging suspicion that maybe Gingrich and Clinton weren't as chummy as the media portayed them to be, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
7.29.2009 11:21am
CJColucci:

So why shouldn't President Obama, if he is so inclined, make his next appointment a liberal Bork or Scalia (if any such can be found in the applicant pool from which he is likely to pick) and ram it through on a party-line vote?

Because then red state Senators like Baucus and Nelson would cross party lines to quash the nomination in its cradle, or face losing their seats in the next general election.

Seems unlikely to me, and unimportant when you have votes to spare. (They wouldn't dare support a filibuster if they ever wanted anything from the White House.) Can anyone name a Senator who lost a seat because of a Supreme Court vote?
7.29.2009 11:21am
Pyrrho:

Seems unlikely to me, and unimportant when you have votes to spare. (They wouldn't dare support a filibuster if they ever wanted anything from the White House.) Can anyone name a Senator who lost a seat because of a Supreme Court vote?

I think this assessment is right on. I bet most people have no idea how their senators voted on a particular judicial nominee. The only way it might possibly have any impact is through interest groups (for example, the NRA counting the Sotomayor vote in its ratings), but even then, it is going to have a very minor effect on a senator's shot at reelection.
7.29.2009 11:50am
zuch (mail) (www):
Brian Mac:
A morally inferior kind to the Democrats, who at least had the decency to evaluate all the things that Bush did/proposed on their individual merits.
The reason I was so hard on Dubya and never had a good word for him was that he never did anything right, at least not that I could think of. He's been a singular failure -- nay, many times a disaster -- at essentially everything he's ever done in his life. Can you think of anything positive?

Cheers,
7.29.2009 12:09pm
zuch (mail) (www):
BGates:
He's a terrible President....
Opinions are like ... nevermind.
His major legislative accomplishment to date, the "stimulus", is either a complete failure or a complete fraud, depending on whether you believe what he said about it then or now.
Yes. Just as Bobby Jindal said, while handing out fat federally funded stimulus checks for jobs in Louisiana ... with Bobby Jindal's name on them....

And that's leaving out that no one expected the stimulus bill would simply make Dubya's recession go away the instant it passed.... Obama's been in office six months. It took Dubya eight years to definitively auger the U.S. into the ground....

Cheers,
7.29.2009 12:15pm
Brian Mac:

He's been a singular failure -- nay, many times a disaster -- at essentially everything he's ever done in his life. Can you think of anything positive?

Well...he did a lot of good things for Africa.
7.29.2009 12:46pm
Pyrrho:

Yes. Just as Bobby Jindal said, while handing out fat federally funded stimulus checks for jobs in Louisiana ... with Bobby Jindal's name on them....

What exactly does this have to do with the merits of the stimulus package?
7.29.2009 1:51pm
M N Ralph:


How safe is Lindsey Graham's seat, anyway?


Pretty safe — he won 58% to 44%, and that was last year, when everyone hated Republicans. Will this change any votes in 2014? I'm guessing not.


He's safe in the general election. He has much more to fear from a primary challenge where this vote could inspire opposition. Even very conservative senators can face primary challenges if they do not completely toe the line. See,e.g., Hatch in Utah.
7.29.2009 1:53pm
M N Ralph:

What was important was to use the Sotomayor nomination to grind down some of Obama's political capital. That's been done.


Why would you think the nomination process has "ground down" any of Obama's political capital. Polls show the public largely supports Sotomayor. If anything, the nomination process and Republican attacks on Sotomayor have further cemented Hispanic support for Obama and Democrats. I wish the Republicans had been a little more vigorous on opposing her because the I think the damage they did themselves was largely minimal and there was a chance for much more.
7.29.2009 2:07pm
Owen H. (mail):

Owen H: for all of sessions and grassley's words, I think it does come down to: Yeah--we dont her and we are voting against her--its the standard set by former Senator Obama, and it is most precisely tit for tat--Its called politics, and politics hang over the judicial nomination procedure. Can we call it, say, the Obama standard?



Why? Did I miss Obama saying that he was opposing particular nominees (not all, just certain ones) purely because Bush nominated them? I realized that's what has so often been claimed was the motive, but that doesn't make it so.
7.29.2009 5:31pm

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