President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Two officials described Obama's decision on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
Administration officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.
A formal announcement was expected at midmorning.
Obama had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and empathy--the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.
Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor's confirmation should be assured.
If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court.
Sotomayor is a self-described "Newyorkrican" who grew up in a Bronx housing project after her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. She has dealt with diabetes since age 8 and lost her father at age 9, growing up under the care of her mother in humble surroundings. As a girl, inspired by the Perry Mason television show, she knew she wanted to be a judge.
The political spin added by the press to the Sotomayor nomination seems to be: Republicans can't oppose her because she is Hispanic -- if they do, they are RAAAAAAACISTS!!
But remember this embarrassing little memo from Nov. 2001, sent by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Ted Kennedy) to Sen. Dick Durbin:
"The groups singled out three--Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline [sic] Kuhl (9th Circuit)--as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with a [sic] eye toward voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."
I wonder if anyone in the mainstream press will dare bring up this incredible example of racism by Senate Democrats, when the "wrong" Hispanic was a potential nominee for the SCOTUS?
Sotomayor also seems very likely to be able to fulfill President Obama's controversial desire to appoint an "empathetic" Supreme Court justice. The New York Times has published a good accounting of Sotomayor's statements about the objectivity of the judicial system and the degree to which a judge's background (specifically white males vs. other minorities) affects their rulings.
Much of what Sotomayor says ("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..." etc.) can be taken out of context in order to appear very radical, but the bulk of her comments seem to stem more from a postmodern intellectual's desire to question everything and then posit one's own answers, rather than an out-of-control social justice agenda.
Still, it is unsettling to consider a future Supreme Court where the worldview and life experience of a Justice is expected to be placed on equal footing with the rule of law. The potential for abuse in such a system is staggering.
Kim adds: In spite of her vast experience and impressive education, there is one very big reason why she should not be confirmed, and that is she outed herself as an activist judge. She was caught on tape saying that policy is made at the appeals court level. She immediately backtracked from her statement once she realized what she let slip, but it was there for everyone to see and hear: