Thursday, June 4, 2009

Alito, Estrada, Pickering & Sotomayor

This week I wrote about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination and hope Republicans use it as an opportunity to make two contrasts: 1) of judicial philosophies 2) of confirmation processes. Regardless of whether the Republicans will vote against her and whether they could stop her confirmation, they should exaimine her and vote accordingly, but do so in a manner that shows dignity and civility, unlike how Democrats treated Judge Charles Pickering. The spiral of disrespect must stop somewhere, Republicans should have it stop with them. Here is an excerpt from the column:
If Sotomayor believes a justice should drop the scales and pick up the legislative pen and make policy, then Republicans and Democrats alike should oppose her encroachment across the separation of powers and her disregard for the rule of law.

I doubt any Democrats will do so, and I hope Republicans will do so properly.

I would be embarrassed if during her questioning, Republicans dragged Sotomayor through the dirt and treated her like Democrats treated Samuel Alito, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following Senator Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass) interrogation and accusations against him, Alito's wife had to leave the room in tears.

I would be agitated if Republicans mounted a process fight, attempting to bottle her in committee or filibuster her on the Senate floor like the Democrats did to Miguel Estrada, whom Bush nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Constitution gives the President the power by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to appoint federal judges. As a nominee, she should have a hearing and she should have a vote. If Republicans want time to debate, they should exercise those prerogatives, but not abuse them to obstruct her nomination.

I would be frustrated if Republican Senators accused her of racism, like Democratic Senators did to Charles Pickering, whom Bush appointed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some Democrats were "kinder" just saying that Pickering was "racially insensitive." Certainly had Pickering said a white man could usually make a better decision than a Latina woman, he would have been castigated by vitriolic Democrats. I hope Republicans show more class.

Republicans should treat Sotomayor with dignity in the committee, give her an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and refrain from character assassinations. If they do conclude she will not rule according to the word and intent of the Constitution, they should vote against her.

Republicans may not be able to prevent Sotomayor's confirmation, but they can demonstrate in the process a more respectful and responsible way of conducting the Senate than their Democratic colleagues.

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