RNC Talking Points On Sotomayor Nomination

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Republicans, Supreme Court

First, the less reactionary ones…

  • President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is an important decision that will have an impact on the United States long after his administration.
  • Republicans are committed to a fair confirmation process and will reserve judgment until more is known about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views, judicial record and qualifications.
  • Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor’s record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments – which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations.
  • To be clear, Republicans do not view this nomination without concern. Judge Sotomayor has received praise and high ratings from liberal special interest groups. Judge Sotomayor has also said that policy is made on the U.S. Court of Appeals.
  • Republicans believe that the confirmation process is the most responsible way to learn more about her views on a number of important issues.
  • The confirmation process will help Republicans, and all Americans, understand more about judge Sotomayor’s thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court’s fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.
  • Republicans are the minority party, but our belief that judges should interpret rather than make law is shared by a majority of Americans.
  • Republicans look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views and to determining whether her views reflect the values of mainstream America.

And now the attacks…

On Obama…

  • Liberal ideology, not legal qualification, is likely to guide the president’s choice of judicial nominees.
  • Obama has said his criterion for nominating judges would be their “heart” and “empathy.”
  • Obama said he believes Supreme Court justices should understand the Court’s role “to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process.”
  • Obama has declared: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old-and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”

Then the overarching scare tactics…

  • Justice Souter’s retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:
  • Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;
  • Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;
  • Stripping “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;
  • Abolishing the death penalty;
  • Judicial micromanagement of the government’s war powers.

By the way, this is all fair since this is how the game is played. But NONE of these things will be strong enough to bring Sotomayor down. It’ll have to be something personal and embarrassing, and we have yet to see any of that today or in the pre-vetting period.

More as it develops…

(h/t: The Hill)


This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 and is filed under Republicans, Supreme Court. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

21 Responses to “RNC Talking Points On Sotomayor Nomination”

  1. Rich Says:

    How much in back-taxes does SHE owe?!? LOL!

  2. Tully Says:

    Not commenting on the nomination itself but on the characterization of tqalking points as “scare tactics.”

    Propaganda (talking points) is indeed purposely one-sided. But that does not at all necessarily make any of the points factually wrong. What they are is one-sided. The way to fight that is with the appropriate counter-arguments and the other side of the story.

    As to the nomination itself, the odds that Obama would ever appoint a non-liberal judge to replace a departing liberal judge were zero in the first place. One does hope that the nominations he make will have some intellectual heft and respect for the law itself, rather than running roughshod over it to reach their own preferred outcomes as has sometimes happened in the past.

  3. TehCrim Says:

    The nomination isn’t surprising. What’s surprising to me is that someone can actually claim they care more about empathy than the rule of law. I know anyone who opposes the nomination will be called out as a racist or sexist, no matter how well they frame their argument around her qualifications, so I doubt there will be much fanfare.

    Personally, I can’t wait until we run out of historical nominations. This is getting brutal. I hope the next one is a midget.

  4. TehCrim Says:

    “Can actually claim they care more about empathy than the rule of law and not be called on it.”

    Sorry, correction.

  5. michael reynolds Says:

    I strongly urge Republicans to attack empathy.

  6. gerryf Says:

    Well, tehcrim, since you are in the mood to correct yourself, yout might as well add another.

    No one said that empathy was more important than the rule of law–all anyone has said is that the person should have empathy as well as an understanding of the rule of law.

  7. Tillyosu Says:

    You know what I don’t see up there? “Judge Sotomayor lacks the intellectual heft to serve on the Supreme Court.”

    I suspect this charge may be partly true, if only in the sense that she won’t be an adequate liberal counterweight to the Conservatives on the court. I also suspect that the Republicans won’t touch it…quietly thanking Obama for giving them a justice who’s arguments won’t prevail over Scalia’s.

    How ironic would it be if the Dems were so focused on Sotomayor’s diversity that they basically threw away a SC nomination?

  8. Chris Says:

    Just wait for the next TAX SCANDAL to come out. lol. so lame.

  9. the Word Says:

    Tully wrote
    …(talking points) is indeed purposely one-sided. But that does not at all necessarily make any of the points factually wrong.

    I agree. It does however strike at credibility when the nominee is attacked before they are named and when anyone in the country knows what will be said (liberal, activist and extremist will be in the mix). Have the democrats had a nominee in the last fifty years for President who was not “the most liberal member of Congress”? Seems like that would be hard to pull off consistently. There will likely be some valid criticisms here but you won’t here that coming out of the GOP leadership. Their appeal will be to the dumbest among us.

    I think the GOP would have better success resuscitating the corpse if they got rid of everyone they have and started presenting info to people like they were adults rather than sheeple. They also would do well to abandon the people who their current arguments work on. Some of the ideas of the GOP deserve a hearing but they are lost in the mix.

  10. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Sotomayor has made a few legal decisions that are sure to raise eyebrows during the confirmation process, and her pro-latina pride has bordered on the racist at times.

    And it’s funny how you describe quoting Obama as “attacks,” Justin. Nice spin. His lefty code-speak made clear that he’s looking for someone with a very flexible, broad interpretation of the law.

  11. the Word Says:

    and btw–

    Under God has NO business in the Pledge. ZERO.

  12. kranky kritter Says:

    I think Sotamayor is going to sail through. So does the GOP. That’s why the official-channels response is measured. Obviously, the main goal there is to help the GOP look measured, thoughtful, deliberate, respectful. There’s not enough ammo for a good food fight. So the GOP can only win by modeling their legal ideals. Good choice there, rock-tossing from tinfoil hatters notwithstanding.

    I still want to take my own measure of Sotamayor. I’m not running for office or looking for friends, so I am fine with stating that at this preliminary point, there are some reasons to doubt her intellectual heft. Speaking comparatively, of course. We’re talking about a council of eggheads, after all. So, how good will her reasoning be? Will she weigh and measure things the way a SCOTUS justice ought? When she disagrees with conservatives, will she be able to make a really good and persuasive legal counter-argument? She may bring other good things to the table of 9, but how will she fare when the doors are closed? Worth asking.

    That she has a losing record on cases that went to SCOTUS is not the most promising of signs, and I don’t think that can be spun away. Still, I think the points about empathy and experience are useful and true. The judicial ideal is as Ginsburg (or was it O’Connor?) stated, that a wise old woman will reach the same conclusion as a wise old man. Most would like to believe that. And legally scotus is expected to strive for it. but it’s not and can’t be strictly true no matter how much we want it.

    And judges DO make policy on occasion, by default. SCOTUS has been thrust into the breach or thrown into the lurch on more than one occasion, and will be so dumped again and again. Lawmakers never anticipate every eventuality. And it is not always a black and white point as to whether existing law is on point or not.

    In such instances, we obviously need legal minds of great accuity. And we also need compassion and empathy and a wealth of experiences to draw upon as well. And a humble understanding of the momentus positions into which SCOTUS is so often cast. I have had my fill of ideologues who will preserve their narrowly perceived abstract principles at any cost. Simply put, when you are a SCOTUS justice, there’s a LOT to weigh. And the people deserve to have it all weighed.

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that for all the squabbling about SCOTUS, when you look at its history, it’s a truly tremendous example of all that is worthwhile about American ideals. It has been a parade of outstanding individuals from various legal perspectives who have made a continual good-faith effort to see that America and Americans get what is just and right and good.

  13. the Word Says:

    kranky wrote
    That she has a losing record on cases that went to SCOTUS is not the most promising of signs, and I don’t think that can be spun away.

    When the court is packed with people on the other side I think there is room for not looking at losing as any indicator. They have to be taken on a case by case basis. My guess is that the people on the court would have been on the losing side at various other times in the nation’s history.

    Sandra Day O’Connor had barely any judicial experience when she was picked if memory serves me correctly and Clarence doesn’t seem to be a heavyweight (One might view them as affirmative action picks since neither were seen as the brightest legal minds in the country at the time) but I do agree that it would be nice if the Court were the nine brightest and most reasoned minds in the country.

    That said 6 out of 9 would be Catholics? Really? There is no one else with any other perspective that might be beneficial to the Court? Perhaps a someone who believed in evidence for their views?… That seems a bit unbalanced.

  14. Tully Says:

    I think she’ll sail through too, based simply on a head count of party affiliation in the Senate. Unless something serious we don’t yet know about turns up.

    But she appears to be an intellectual lightweight for a top-level jurist, just based on her reversal record. In the only (decided) case that went to SCOTUS that wasn’t reversed, the Court unanimously repudiated her reasoning and affirmed the decision on other grounds. Her remarks on “empathy” and policy-setting are also somewhat troubling, but are relevant only as reflected in specific rulings. Opinions outside the courtroom should not be counted against her unless they are reflected by her decisions as issued from the bench.

    The GOP Senators will of course try to get her to answer hypotheticals as to how she would rule in certain situations, just as Dem Senators do with GOP SCOTUS nominees, and she will decline to play that game. And she will be 100% correct to do so–judges should rule on the specific issues in front of them, applying the relevant law, not build files of pre-decided cookie-cutter decisions to toss out by rote. OTOH, her decisions of record on settled cases are fair game for questioning and criticism.

    We’ll see. In any case her appointment will not substantively change the balance on the court, nor does anyone really expect it to. I suspect she’ll be more of a “Me too!” vote for the liberal faction of the court than anything else.

  15. kranky kritter Says:

    Yes, for me there’s the worry that Sotomayor will be SCOTUS’s 1st postmodernist rationalizer of the flavor I used to run into in grad school. I hope not.

    Agreed on the minority side’s attempts to bait the nominee with hypotheticals: “Here, I’ve built this nice cross for you, won’t you please step up and nail yourself to it?”

    Interested to hear what Sotomayor says when asked WHY she ruled for the city against the firefighters in the promotion test case. I hope she is asked, and answers honestly. I have heard she bought the rationale that the city was worried about lawsuits. I hope not. If nobody ever did anything they might get sued for, then nobody would do anything. I heard there was no published reasoning, just a shory decision.

    Funny, though that if lawsuit avoidance was the reason, then lawsuit avoidance landed them in SCOTUS. Pretty rich irony, that.

  16. Tully Says:

    As that firefighter case is still before the court she is nominated to sit on, I believe she can quite legitimately decline to answer past what was overtly contained in her forwarded decision, i.e., she can just point at the decision itself and decline to extend. Not that I wouldn’t be real interested in hearing her answers.

    Settled cases, especially her rulings that were overturned by SCOTUS, are fair game. They are neither hypothetical nor pending.

  17. kranky kritter Says:

    Would Sotamayor have to recuse herself if it came up in a court she was part of?

    IF SCOTUS rules on it before she is seated, then she’d have to speak to it, right? Maybe the court will do her a solid and make a decision after hee confirmation but before her seating? No idea on the mechanics.

  18. Jon Kay Says:

    kranky wrote>
    > That she has a losing record on cases that went to SCOTUS is not the most promising of signs, and I don’t think that can be spun away.

    The average reversal rate for cases that actually to the Court is 75%, so she’s actually better than average. She’s 2/5 on cases that made it to the Court, and the Court chose to review only five out of over 150 total cases.

  19. Tully Says:

    The average reversal rate for cases that actually to the Court is 75%, so she’s actually better than average.

    Where are you getting your figures, Jon? Because they don’t match the records I’ve seen. She’s actually at 5 reversals for 6 cases taken up by SCOTUS so far, which is an 83% reversal rate, and in the one case that wasn’t reversed the court unanimously repudiated (even ridiculed) her reasoning but upheld the decision on other grounds, so it would not be unreasonable to say her reversal rate just missed being 100%.

    She has one case still pending for review that I have not counted.

  20. kranky kritter Says:

    I don’t see 2 of 5 upheld. I see only 1 of 6 upheld with 1 more pending. What’s your 2nd besides Knight? I have her losing Riverkeeper, Dabit, Empire, Malesko, and Tasini, with only Knight upheld with her reasoning unanimously faulted,

    And then there’s the issue of how you really want to score a ruling upheld with unanimous faulting of the actual reasoning. Surely not as reflecting especially favorably on the judge’s erudition, for starters.

    And then there is the issue of why a given judge would have many rulings reach SCOTUS at all. I don’t know what’s common, but 7 seems like a lot of ruling to get questioned all the way to the top.

  21. Tully Says:

    And then there is the issue of why a given judge would have many rulings reach SCOTUS at all.

    Insufficient information. What is the actual rate of decisions going to SCOTUS from the type of positions she has held, and how does she compare?

    I don’t find it unusual that a high rate of cases accepted by SCOTUS for review are reversed. They’re only going to accept cases where there is already a strong showing that the decision is potentially flawed. The question is, how many decisions has she made that had that strong a showing of being flawed, and how does that compare to other judges?

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