History of right-wing attacks on Judge Sotomayor

by on May 26, 2009  •  In Supreme Court

With the news that President Obama has nominated ED-AJ556_rao_D_20090526121834 native Nuyorican and Yankee fan (also Judge of the Second Circuit) Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, we know that as night follows day, conservatives will attack her as … pretty much anything they can think of.  They will pretend to be shocked – shocked! – that the President could put forth a nominee who is so controversial.  When they do, remember that they have a history of this, not just with the nominees of Democratic Presidents, but specifically with Judge Sotomayor.

President Obama's selection was effectively made possible by President Clinton's naming her to the Court of Appeals. When Clinton nominated then District Court Judge Sotomayor to the Second Circuit 12 years ago, Republicans in the Senate stalled her confirmation for more than a year. So along with everything else you read about her, remember this article from the NY Times on June 13, 1998:

Judge Sonia Sotomayor seemed like a trouble-free choice when President Clinton nominated her to an appeals court post a year ago. Hers was an appealing story: a child from the Bronx housing projects who went on to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton and become editor of the Yale Law Journal and then a Federal prosecutor. Moreover, she had been a trial judge since 1992….

But Republican senators have been blocking Judge Sotomayor's elevation to the appeals court for a highly unusual reason: to make her less likely to be picked by Mr. Clinton for the Supreme Court, senior Republican Congressional aides said in interviews. …

Judge Sotomayor's nomination was approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March. Of the judicial nominees who have cleared the committee in this Congress, she is among those who have waited the longest for a final vote on the floor.

Senate Republican staff aides said Trent Lott of Mississippi, the majority leader, has agreed to hold up a vote on the nomination as part of an elaborate political calculus; if she were easily confirmed to the appeals court, they said, that would put her in a position to be named to the Supreme Court. And Senate Republicans think that they would then have a difficult time opposing a Hispanic woman who had just been confirmed by the full Senate.

''Basically, we think that putting her on the appeals court puts her in the batter's box to be nominated to the Supreme Court,'' said one senior Republican staff aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ''If Clinton nominated her it would put several of our senators in a real difficult position.'' …

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, was blunt in his criticism of the Republicans who are blocking a confirmation vote. ''Their reasons are stupid at best and cowardly at worst,'' he said. ''What they are saying is that they have a brilliant judge who also happens to be a woman and Hispanic, and they haven't the guts to stand up and argue publicly against her on the floor,'' Senator Leahy said. ''They just want to hide in their cloakrooms and do her in quietly.'' …

On Sept. 30, the day of her confirmation hearing, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, warned the Senate that Judge Sotomayor was an ultraliberal who was on a ''rocket ship'' to the Supreme Court. That day, Judge Sotomayor was questioned closely by Republicans. In the end, the only Republicans to vote against her were Senator John Kyl of Arizona and Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri….


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