Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/14/2009 (2:09 pm)

Sotomayor, Senate Hearings, and Truth

bildePowerLine blog, a conservative lawyers’ haven, takes Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the woodshed today for telling a deliberate falsehood before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has begun hearings about confirming Judge Sotomayor to replace the retiring Judge David Souter on the Supreme Court, regarding her now-infamous claim that a wise Latina woman would be able to judge cases involving matters within her experience more competently than a wise, Caucasian man who lacked those experiences.

Judge Sotomayor is trying to backpedal, and she’s apparently lying to do it. In response to a gentle set-up from committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D, VT) she represented her controversial comment as merely agreeing with sentiments voiced by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor on a similar subject. John Hinderaker at PowerLine points out that the text of Sotomayor’s own comment clearly identifies her as disagreeing with O’Connor’s sentiments (emphasis mine):

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

We know today that this theme of Judge Sotomayor’s was repeated in public speeches through the late 90s and early 21st century; it is not an incidental comment, but a central thought of hers. I suspect that Judge Sotomayor is a closet progressive of the same sort as President Obama: eager to strike a moderate pose for the cameras, but only for the purpose of obtaining power from which to enact a full-throttle race toward Progressive Utopia.

reagan_with_robert_bork_1987However, I cannot blame Judge Sotomayor for the atmosphere in which she finds it necessary to lie. For that, we have to run the clock back about 22 years, to the summer when President Ronald Reagan nominated appellate court judge Robert Bork to replace the retiring Justice Lewis Powell on the Supreme Court. Prior to the Bork nomination, gentlemen’s agreement in the Senate had limited examination of nominees mostly to their legal qualifications. However, with a seat on the court at stake which had frequently been a moderate swing vote, and with the narrowest of margins supporting the alleged right to legal abortions which is, inexplicably, the heart and soul of the Democratic party, the Democrats threw tradition to the winds and launched a public relations assault against Judge Bork the likes of which had not been seen in a Supreme Court nomination during any of the participants’ lifetimes. The resulting campaign, remarkable for its venality as well as its falsehood, remains in the language as a verb, “to Bork”, meaning to demolish by public relations assault any possibility of the person being approved to hold office. The Republicans, ever hopeful that their opponents will act like human beings, were taken completely by surprise, and did not respond. The consequence was the mediocrity of Anthony Kennedy, with whom we still suffer.

The other consequence is that nominees for Supreme Court seats have learned to shield their views behind iron screens, and to dissemble before the Senate chambers. Positions responsible for the law ought to be immune from political considerations, and can be if both sides agree to it; but since the Democrats decided that politics trump the impartiality of the Court, no nominee can afford to approach the Senate without recognizing the political implications of even the slightest misstatement.

Thus, those who need the truth in order to make wise decisions, are denied the truth. This is the price of demolishing gentlemen’s rules regarding the impartiality of the law.

Mind you, Judge Sotomayor is dissembling somewhat more than usual, saying pretty much the polar opposite of what she offered as sound advice in lecture after lecture less than a decade ago. Still, the real story on judges lying to Congress in confirmation hearings rests more on the shoulders of Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Joe Biden, both of whom were major players in the Borking, than it rests on Judge Sotomayor.

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July 15, 2009 @ 1:52 pm #

As well as with the MSM, who displays their typical hypocrisy. When I initially read Ted Kennedy’s over the top denunciation of Judge Bork ca. 1987, I was flabbergasted with the vitriol. However, his statement was reported in the papers of record not as an example of raw, partisan politics at its worst; but more as an exemplar of Ted Kennedy’s blunt honesty. It took weeks before I was able to find an article in the paper which refuted what Kennedy had said (remember, there was no internet, or alternate media in those days).

By contrast today our local rag has the following:

Headline: “Unflappable Nominee Defends Her Objectivity”

Sub-headline: Sotomayor goes toe-to-toe with GOP senators”

First sentence: “It was almost as if the judge were on trial.”

Second leading article: A viewpoint from Sen. Ted Kaufman (D)(Biden’s former chief of staff and replacement Senator) in which the article said that the Senator “worries that under Chief Justice Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush, the court is biased toward big corporations.” and that he’s not worried about Sotomayor being an activist judge because Roberts and Alito fall more into that category.

God forbid these people could ever simply publish the facts without adding a liberal slant to the message.

July 20, 2009 @ 9:04 am #

[…] I observed about a week ago that the Bork hearings in 1987 had changed the judicial selection process into a blood sport, I […]

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