My LA Times Debate With Erwin Chemerinsky over the Sotomayor Nomination:

Over the next three days, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School, and I will be debating the Sotomayor nomination at the Los Angeles Times blog. Our first two posts are available here. They address the following question:

Much has been made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor would be the first Latina justice, and sitting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said she feels "lonely" as the only woman on the bench. How much, if at all, does the ethnic and gender diversity of the Supreme Court bench matter?

Erwin argues Sotomayor's racial and gender background will be a major asset to the Court. In my view, the appointment of a Hispanic Supreme Court justice is a important symbolic sign of racial progress; but Sotomayor should be judged much more by her record on legal issues (which I think is problematic) than by her background.

I am happy to have the opportunity to debate the nomination with such an oustanding and prominent legal scholar. Ironically, I once defended Chemerinsky's appointment as UCI Dean when it was temporarily rescinded due to foolish claims that he was "too liberal" to be the dean of a major law school. However, we don't agree on too many other issues, and it should be an interesting debate.

On Thursday and Friday, we will discuss other issues related to the nomination.