When despairing of the inane political football games that Supreme Court nominations too often become, we might take some consolation (cold comfort, I admit) in the fact that it has always been so, and in fact if anything 19th Century Court politics were even rougher than they are today. It's also likely that Sonia Sotomayor's nomination will go through; it's hard to see how the Republicans could stop it. Still, we will now have an interlude of fussing and fighting and it's useful to try to pull out the most salient talking points.
Those points are not, I don't think, the most obvious ones. The obvious points are as follows:
1) Obama continues to follow a recent trend started by Clinton and, after initially stumbling with his arrogant attempt to appoint an old crony, Harriet Miers, hewn to by Bush in his appointments of Roberts and Alito: appoint extremely accomplished jurors. This is definitely a good idea as the corpus of law only grows more complex and simply larger with each passing year. In the case of Sotomayor, we have a jurist who graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, was an editor of the Yale Law Review, worked for the legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and has now served eleven years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.
2) Democrats and liberals like myself also have nothing to complain about: we have the first Latino/a nominee in the history of the Supreme Court - and a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, no less! That's maybe the best part. A woman diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, raised by a single mother. Not only that, but she is most famous (until now) for ending the baseball strike in 1995 coming down on the side of the players, thus avoiding what would have been the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. Her overall record is liberal but hardly "activist" (as her attackers will begin shouting on cable today), with plenty of examples of ruling against liberal outcomes on the basis of constitutional law.
But here are three points to keep especially "on-message" as the right wing tries to tar Judge Sotomayor: a) She was a prosecutor in Manhattan for six years. b) She was recommended by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but the President who actually appointed her was George H. W. Bush, and most importantly c) as a Judge on the Couirt of Appeals in New York City, most of her rulings have not concerned "social" issues. She has been working most of this time on complex cases involving the financial and banking industries as well as communications technology, just the kinds of cases that are likely to come before the Court in the next few years. These are the things one might want to mention in public debate with the dittohead troglodytes.