Political Headlines June 6, 2011: Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum (PA) Announces 2012 Presidential Bid – ‘In It to Win’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

Rick Santorum announces 2012 presidential bid: Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced his candidacy for president Monday during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

  • Santorum enters White House race warning of Obama: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a blunt talker who is popular among social conservatives, plunged into the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes Monday, saying he wants to protect American freedoms under threat from President Barack Obama.
    Once the No. 3 Republican in the ranks of the Senate GOP leadership, Santorum charged that Obama has worked to undermine Americans’ liberties and has imposed a national health care plan that saps individual choice. He accused Obama of spending billions of dollars that will add to the debt of future generations and said the president lacks faith in the nation’s potential.
    “I’m ready to lead. I’m ready to do what has to be done for the next generation, with the courage to fight for freedom, with the courage to fight for America,” Santorum said, speaking the sun-splashed steps of a county courthouse in western Pennsylvania. “That’s why I’m announcing today that I’m running for president of the United States of America.”… – AP, 6-6-11
  • FACT CHECK: Santorum omits key details on deficit: In announcing his Republican presidential bid, former Sen. Rick Santorum blamed President Barack Obama for a federal deficit that has many contributors, and he omitted important details about Obama’s comments on America’s past. A look at some of Santorum’s statements made Monday and how they compare with the facts…. – AP, 6-7-11
  • Pawlenty’s economic plan seeks 5 pct annual growth: Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty pitched an economic plan Tuesday that includes deep cuts in personal and business taxes to spur the struggling U.S. economy but would add to deficits in the short term in the hope that badly needed jobs would follow…. – AP, 6-7-11

Elena Kagan: Obama’s Supreme Court Justice Nominee

THE HEADLINES….

The President, Vice  President, and Elena Kagan

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 5/10/1
  • Speeches and writings show fuller picture of Kagan: Not so long ago, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan opined the law sometimes allows things that are “just plain dumb.” She once compared herself to Oprah Winfrey giving away swag on TV. And she routinely told students at one of the nation’s most competitive law schools they should just relax and have fun. From reams of files from Kagan’s past, glimmers of the would-be Supreme Court justice’s personality and style are emerging to help paint a fuller portrait for senators weighing her confirmation. The documents provide glimpses of Kagan’s sense of humor, her view of the importance and limits of the law, her take on the role of the Supreme Court in American life, and the major issues and sometimes-mundane tasks she handled during a career in legal circles, academia and a Democratic White House…. – AP, 5-20-10
  • Senators Want Kagan Documents: Washington….Moving toward a quick confirmation hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday asked the Clinton presidential library to turn over volumes of documents, correspondence , emails and other memos related to Elena Kagan during her time as a top presidential assistant in the 1990s…. – LAT, 5-19-10
  • Senate panel will begin Kagan confirmation hearings on June 28: Kagan hearings will begin June 28 The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings June 28 for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, the panel’s chairman announced Wednesday. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said the schedule should allow the hearings to be completed before senators go home in early July for a week-long break…. – WaPo, 5-19-10
  • FACT CHECK: Kagan is no ivory-tower peacenik: Elena Kagan is no ivory-tower peacenik. Judging by her own words, the Supreme Court nominee held the armed forces in high regard during her tenure as Harvard Law School dean. She had one beef with the institution, a big one: its “repugnant” prohibition on openly gay service members. Republicans are using that to portray her as an anti-military activist and to accuse her — groundlessly — of acting outside the law in restricting military recruiters on campus. If anything, the record shows Kagan defended Harvard’s conditions for on-campus military recruitment with less than a full-throated roar… – AP, 5-18-10
  • Kagan’s skills well-suited to Senate hearings: Standing before the nine Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan is forceful, quick on her feet, admits error when necessary, then goes right back at the questioner — blunt yet polite. Her style as solicitor general is likely to serve her in confirmation hearings, but only to an extent, legal and political analysts say. Kagan has exhibited the dexterity necessary to respond to tough questions in a public forum, but a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is a more politically charged setting than the high court. “She can’t just show that she’s a super-duper lawyer for the president,” says Ken Duberstein, a chief of staff to President Reagan who handled several Supreme Court nominations. “She has to tell a life story and convey a temperament that shows she’ll be fair and impartial.”… – USA Today, 5-17-10
  • Senator says Kagan broke law at Harvard: While Senate Republicans acknowledge that they are unlikely to derail Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, that hasn’t stopped them from testing potential lines of attack against her. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Kagan of violating the law when she was dean of Harvard Law School between 2003 and 2008. During her tenure, she continued the school’s restrictions on campus military recruitment because of the armed forces’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans openly gay people from serving. Sessions blasted Kagan on ABC’s “This Week” for enforcing the recruitment restrictions during a time of war, which he called “no little-bitty matter.”… – WaPo, 5-17-10
  • Personal ties bind Obama, Kagan President joins ranks of picking friend for court: If Elena Kagan is confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, President Obama will have something that has become increasingly rare for presidents: a personal friend on the court. Indeed, when Obama introduced Kagan at the White House as his court nominee, it sounded almost as if he were talking about himself: a former Chicago law professor, Harvard graduate, and White Sox fan who eschewed the lucrative world of corporate law to focus on academia and public service. Obama brought her into his administration by nominating her to be solicitor general and now, after slightly more than a year in that job, he wants to elevate her to the Supreme Court. Boston Globe, 5-16-10
  • Pragmatism over partisanship? Kagan described as favoring a consensus-building, analytical style over a passion for her own ideas: Just after Election Day the fall of her senior year at Princeton, Elena Kagan published an opinion piece in the campus newspaper recounting how she had wept and gotten drunk on vodka at a campaign gathering for a liberal Brooklyn congresswoman who had unexpectedly lost a race for the Senate. Ronald Reagan was heading to the White House, and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman — a champion for women’s causes for whom Ms. Kagan had toiled 14-hour days as a campaign press assistant — was leaving Capitol Hill. Ms. Kagan, then 20 and imbued with the liberal principles on which she had been raised, said she was flirting with despair that “there was no longer any place for the ideals we held. … I wonder how all this could possibly have happened and where on earth I’ll be able to get a job next year.”… – WaPo, 5-16-10
  • ‘General Kagan’ no newcomer to high court: Six times in the past nine months, Solicitor General Elena Kagan has come to the mahogany lectern in the hushed reverence of the Supreme Court to argue the government’s case before the justices she now hopes to join soon…. – AP, 5-15-10
  • Kagan’s Link to Marshall Cuts 2 Ways: In the spring of 1988, Justice Thurgood Marshall assigned a clerk, Elena Kagan, to write a first draft of his opinion in a case considering whether a school district could charge a poor family for busing a child to the nearest school, which was 16 miles away….
    Because Ms. Kagan has never been a judge and has produced only a handful of scholarly writings, clues to her philosophy are rare. In that vacuum, liberals and conservatives alike are attributing special significance to her clerkship year with Justice Marshall, who led the civil rights movement’s legal efforts to dismantle segregation before becoming a particularly liberal Supreme Court justice.
    But while Ms. Kagan, a former board member for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, clearly relished the experience and admired the justice as a historic figure, she appears to have had a far more ambivalent attitude toward his jurisprudence, according to a review of his papers at the Library of Congress, her comments over the years about him and interviews with her fellow clerks and colleagues…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • As Clinton Aide, Kagan Recommended Tactical Support for an Abortion Ban: Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, once recommended to President Bill Clinton that he support a Democratic-sponsored ban on some late-term abortions as a way to defeat a stronger measure gaining momentum in the Senate.
    As a White House domestic policy aide, Ms. Kagan sent Mr. Clinton a memorandum urging him to endorse the ban sponsored by Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota. The memo anticipated that the Daschle plan would fail but suggested that it would provide political cover for enough senators to stick by the president when he ultimately vetoed the tougher bill sponsored by Republicans.
    “We recommend that you endorse the Daschle amendment in order to sustain your credibility on HR 1122 and prevent Congress from overriding your veto,” Ms. Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, said in the memo on May 13, 1997…. – NYT, 5-12-10
  • Kagan fits Obama’s vision for the Supreme Court: With his second Supreme Court nomination in as many years, President Barack Obama has laid down clear markers of his vision for the court, one that could prove to be among his most enduring legacies….
    Kagan, 50, the solicitor general named to replace outgoing liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, would not immediately alter the ideological balance of the bench. But her addition would almost certainly provide a lasting, liberal presence, and administration officials hope she would, in the words of one, “start to move the court into a different posture and profile.”….
    Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Kagan will have to show “that she was not chosen by the president as a political ally who will rubber-stamp his agenda — but as an impartial jurist who will uphold the Constitution’s limits on the proper role of the federal government and defend the liberties of everyday Americans.”…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • Obama Is Said to Select Kagan as Justice: President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future, Democrats close to the White House said Sunday. After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public…. – NYT, 5-10-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Meet Elena Kagan – WH, 5-11-10
  • Nominating Kagan: “Her Passion for the Law is Anything But Academic”: For nearly 35 years, Justice Stevens has stood as an impartial guardian of the law, faithfully applying the core values of our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.
    He has done so with restraint and respect for precedent — understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law — but also with fidelity to the constitutional ideal of equal justice for all. He’s brought to each case not just mastery of the letter of the law, but a keen understanding of its impact on people’s lives.
    Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds. She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law. She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government. She is a trailblazing leader — the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School — and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history. And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well. And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence.
    But Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.
    These traits were particularly evident during her tenure as dean. At a time when many believed that the Harvard faculty had gotten a little one-sided in its viewpoint, she sought to recruit prominent conservative scholars and spur a healthy debate on campus. And she encouraged students from all backgrounds to respectfully exchange ideas and seek common ground — because she believes, as I do, that exposure to a broad array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education, but of a successful life in the law.
    This appreciation for diverse views may also come in handy as a die-hard Mets fan serving alongside her new colleague-to-be, Yankees fan Justice Sotomayor, who I believe has ordered a pinstriped robe for the occasion. (Laughter.)
    But while Elena had a brilliant career in academia, her passion for the law is anything but academic. She has often referred to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked, as her hero. I understand that he reciprocated by calling her “Shorty.” (Laughter.) Nonetheless, she credits him with reminding her that, as she put it, “behind law there are stories — stories of people’s lives as shaped by the law, stories of people’s lives as might be changed by the law…”
    That understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career — including her service as Solicitor General today.
    During her time in this office, she’s repeatedly defended the rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against unscrupulous corporations. Last year, in the Citizens United case, she defended bipartisan campaign finance reform against special interests seeking to spend unlimited money to influence our elections. Despite long odds of success, with most legal analysts believing the government was unlikely to prevail in this case, Elena still chose it as her very first case to argue before the Court.
    I think that says a great deal not just about Elena’s tenacity, but about her commitment to serving the American people. I think it says a great deal about her commitment to protect our fundamental rights, because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. – WH, 5-10-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: Globe and Mail: A Careerist Conundrum of Supreme Proportions Did Elena Kagan somehow lose her voice and soul while climbing her way to the top?: For New Yorkers born in the 1960s, U.S. President Barack Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court triggered the frissons of pride and envy many of us feel when someone our age and from our humble background makes it. But Ms. Kagan’s careerist conundrum is particularly fascinating. Did this woman with the perfect Princeton- Oxford-Harvard résumé somehow lose her voice and her soul while climbing professionally as deliberately as she did? To be fair, to young New Yorkers in the 1970s, the notion of a woman sitting on the Supreme Court was downright revolutionary. Ms. Kagan’s nomination is the ultimate Free to Be … You and Me moment…
    Still, we do not know how Ms. Kagan will act. She may prove to have been a phony phoenix, emerging, after years of hiding it, as a full-throated ideologue. Alternatively, decades of calculated accommodating might keep her building bridges as she did when she was dean of Harvard Law School.
    Regardless, as a professor and a parent, I wonder: Do I advise my students and my children that they are “free to be you and me?” Or, to go as far as some want to go, must they squelch their voices, round their edges, and be the corporate careerists that excessive media scrutiny in a polarizing political culture demands they be? – The Globe & Mail, 5-17-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Senate should accept Kagan’s ’95 ‘challenge': In 1995, Elena Kagan published a lengthy book review in the University of Chicago Law Review, titled “Confirmation Messes, Old and New,” in which she was critical of the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominees.
    While she challenged the author Stephen Carter’s argument that the confirmations had become nasty and destructive, she instead complained that the hearings tended to avoid substantive issues.
    Kagan argues that in response to the contentious debate over Robert Bork in 1987, senators refrained from dealing with real issues. Rather than offering a serious examination of how a nominee viewed constitutional issues, the hearings instead provided a “vapid and hollow charade” devoid of substance.
    She urged a return to the kind of debate that surrounded Bork, which she said “presented to the public a serious discussion of the meaning of the Constitution, the role of the Court, and the views of the nominees.”
    Based on the initial media and political response to her nomination, it seems that Kagan was spot on. During the first week since President Obama announced his selection, public discussion has revolved around irrelevant issues that won’t teach us much about Kagan….
    Maybe after reading Kagan’s record, the Senate can elevate rather than denigrate the public discourse and demonstrate how Congress can fulfill its functions. – CNN, 5-17-10

President Obama Chooses Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Nominee for the Supreme Court

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

(Image from NYT)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • According to the Senate historian’s office, 28 of 158 nominations have been rejected, withdrawn or simply not acted upon since the court was founded in 1789.
  • US top court pick may lure Hispanic votes-analysts: Choice could consolidate Obama appeal with Hispanics, Opposition to Sotomayor could alienate Hispanic voters…. – Reuters, 5-26-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Senators to meet Obama’s nominee: Senators this week will begin to take the measure of Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation hearing for the court’s first Hispanic nominee is not expected until July. But on Tuesday, escorted by home state Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), she will meet key players, including Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)…. – AJC, 5-31-09
  • Senators Preview Stances on Sotomayor: Senators hit the talk shows Sunday in an informal opening act to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, battling over whether she would bring a nuanced judgment seasoned by a complex life or would let her personal views trump the law. The formal hearings won’t begin for several weeks, and Republicans on Sunday suggested they wouldn’t seek to block her confirmation. But senators from both parties, and especially those from the Judiciary Committee, are already seeking to shape the debate and Ms. Sotomayor’s image…. – WSJ, 5-31-09
  • Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle: The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has opened a new battle in the fight over affirmative action and other race-conscious remedies for patterns of inequality, with each side invoking the election of the first black president in support of its cause…. – NYT, 5-29-09
  • Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament – NYT, 5-28-09
  • How, why Obama picked Sotomayor: President Barack Obama called Judge Sonia Sotomayor at 9 p.m. on Memorial Day to say she was his pick for the Supreme Court. Obama showed he was willing to pick a fight with his choice — Republicans do not consider her a “consensus” nominee and had signaled that they considered her the most liberal of the four finalists. He played smart base politics with the historic selection of a Hispanic (a first) and a woman. And he fulfilled his pledge to pick someone with a common touch by nominating someone who was raised in a Bronx housing project, and lost her father at age 9…. – Politico, 5-27-09
  • Sotomayor, a Trailblazer and a Dreamer: She was “a child with dreams,” as she once said, the little girl who learned at 8 that she had diabetes, who lost her father when she was 9, who devoured Nancy Drew books and spent Saturday nights playing bingo, marking the cards with chickpeas, in the squat red brick housing projects of the East Bronx. She was the history major and Puerto Rican student activist at Princeton who spent her first year at that bastion of the Ivy League “too intimidated to ask questions.” She was the tough-minded New York City prosecutor, and later the corporate lawyer with the dazzling international clients. She was the federal judge who “saved baseball” by siding with the players’ union during a strike…. – NYT, 5-27-09
  • Sotomayor’s take-no-guff demeanor could alter court dynamics: Judge Sonia Sotomayor can be blunt, aggressive and impatient. So get ready for another public debate, and probably some insinuations, about her judicial temperament….
    “It’s her style,” said New York -based lawyer Julia Heit , who counts herself among Sotomayor’s fans and who’s practiced in Sotomayor’s 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for three decades. “She wants answers. She wants the attorneys who appear before her to be prepared. And she’s demanding, as she well should be. “As an aside, I should say life will be easier when I don’t have to confront her.”… – McClatchy Newspapers, 5-27-09
  • Bronx bursting with pride over Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor: Local officials say the judge gives the New York City borough a new ambassador to improve its image problems…. – LAT, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Republicans see little chance of blocking Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, a key GOP senator conceded Wednesday. But senators and advocacy groups are still girding for this summer’s battle — partly with an eye toward raising money and perhaps preparing for Barack Obama’s next nominee…. – AP, 5-27-09
  • Historic nomination: Hispanic Sotomayor as justice: Reaching for history, President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, championing her as a compassionate, seasoned jurist whose against-the-odds life journey affirms the American dream. Republicans who will decide whether to make a fight of her confirmation said they want thorough hearings…. – AP, 5-26-09
  • Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor’s Rulings Are Exhaustive but Often Narrow: Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial opinions are marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of layers of legal principles…. – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Biased or brilliant? Scrutiny of Sotomayor begins Obama’s high-court pick is no ‘stealth candidate.’ She has made some 450 judicial decisions. What’s more, she has not been shy about expressing her opinions publicly: The nomination of federal appeals-court judge Sonia Sotomayor to a seat on the US Supreme Court sets the stage for a national debate over the appropriate role of a high-court justice and whether Judge Sotomayor is the best person for the job. But the debate may ultimately be far less aggressive than many conservative stalwarts would like. Short of a revelation of personal scandal, Sotomayor is almost certain to be confirmed with a solid Democratic majority in the Senate. And an aggressive campaign against her by Republicans could harm the party, already reeling from a poor performance last November and a decline in support among Hispanics…. – CS Monitor, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor’s Baseball Ruling Lingers, 14 Years Later: When he introduced Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday as his nominee for the Supreme Court, President Obama cited only one of her cases to make his argument that she replace Justice David H. Souter — and it wasn’t her opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano, a race-discrimination lawsuit. Instead, it was the temporary injunction she issued to end the baseball strike in 1995. “Some say that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball,” said Obama, who offered another paragraph of praise for her before saying she was raised “not far from Yankee Stadium.”…. – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor would be sixth Catholic justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor has much to distinguish her, but one element of her biography stands out in the world of those interested in religion and the public square: she is Catholic, and, if approved as a Supreme Court justice, she will be the sixth Catholic on the nine-member court. That is a remarkable accomplishment for American Catholics, who make up 23 percent of the nation’s population, and will now potentially hold 67 percent of the high court’s seats. Two of the justices are Jewish; the resignation of Justice David Souter, who is an Episcopalian, will leave, amazingly given the history of this nation, just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens…. – Boston Globe, 5-26-09
  • L.A. Latinos savor Supreme Court choice: It’s about time, some say, as President Obama nominates federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She would be the court’s first Latina…. – LAT, 5-26-09
  • Court Nomination Creates a Puff of Pride, and Some Concerns, Among Hispanics: In restaurants, homes and offices across the country, Hispanics responded to Judge Sotomayor’s selection with a puff of pride, some gratitude and considerable discussion. In interviews in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, many said this kind of recognition from Washington — Democratic or Republican — was long overdue given the growing size of the Hispanic voting bloc…. – NYT, 5-26-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President and Judge Sotomayor

Political Quotes

  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls for Thorough and Timely Confirmation for Judge Sonia Sotomayor: This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers…. – White House, 5-30-09
  • Gingrich Calls Sotomayor “Racist”: “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman,'” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., blogged today. “Wouldn’t they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” The conservatives are decrying a comment made by Judge Sotomayor in 2001, addressing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s famous quote that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.” “I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor said. “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.” “Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said…. – ABC News, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he didn’t foresee a filibuster, essentially the only way Republicans could try to stop Sotomayor since Democrats control the Senate. Still, he made it clear that Republicans were ready to raise pointed questions about whether Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, would let her personal life color her legal opinions — and whether that’s appropriate for a Supreme Court justice.
    “We have an absolute constitutional duty to make sure that any nominee, no matter what their background and what kind of life story they have, that we examine that so the American people can know that the person we give a lifetime appointment to … will be faithful to the law and not allow their personal views to influence decision-making,” Sessions said in an interview on NBC’s “Today.” – AP, 5-27-09
  • The President’s Nominee: Judge Sonia Sotomayor – WH Blog, 5-26-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN NOMINATING JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: Of the many responsibilities granted to a President by our Constitution, few are more serious or more consequential than selecting a Supreme Court justice. The members of our highest court are granted life tenure, often serving long after the Presidents who appointed them. And they are charged with the vital task of applying principles put to paper more than 20 [sic] centuries ago to some of the most difficult questions of our time.
    So I don’t take this decision lightly. I’ve made it only after deep reflection and careful deliberation. While there are many qualities that I admire in judges across the spectrum of judicial philosophy, and that I seek in my own nominee…..
    After completing this exhaustive process, I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York. (Applause.)
    Over a distinguished career that spans three decades, Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice….. – White House, 5-26-09
  • JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Thank you, Mr. President, for the most humbling honor of my life. You have nominated me to serve on the country’s highest court, and I am deeply moved…..
    It is a daunting feeling to be here. Eleven years ago, during my confirmation process for appointment to the Second Circuit, I was given a private tour of the White House. It was an overwhelming experience for a kid from the South Bronx. Yet never in my wildest childhood imaginings did I ever envision that moment, let alone did I ever dream that I would live this moment.
    Mr. President, I greatly appreciate the honor you are giving me, and I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. I hope that as the Senate and the American people learn more about me they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences.
    Thank you again, sir. (Applause.) – White House, 5-26-09
  • Obama makes Sotomayor his first Supreme Court nominee: President Barack Obama nominated Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, Reuters reports. “I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York,” Obama said in a White House event announcing his decision…. – National Post, 5-26-09
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev: “As majority leader, I will do all I can to ensure Judge Sonia Sotomayor receives a fair and respectful hearing and the Senate’s quick confirmation.”
  • Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky: “Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.”
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee: “Judge Sotomayor has a long and distinguished career on the federal bench. She has been nominated by both Democratic and Republican presidents, and she was twice confirmed by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican: “We must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one’s own personal preferences or political views.”
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., member of the Judiciary Committee: “This is an historic choice, and much more. Judge Sotomayor meets three very important standards in filling this Supreme Court vacancy — excellence, moderation and diversity.”
  • Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, member of the Judiciary Committee: “She must prove her commitment to impartially deciding cases based on the law, rather than based on her own personal politics, feelings and preferences.”
  • Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., member of the Judiciary Committee: “Her confirmation would add needed diversity in two ways: the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the high court.”
  • Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, member of the Judiciary Committee: “The Judiciary Committee should take time to ensure that the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences.”
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: “With eight men, one woman and no Hispanics currently sitting on the court, President Obama listened to voices like former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in recognizing that diversity on the bench is essential.”
  • John Yoo, former Justice Department lawyer who wrote memos during the Bush administration on the legality of harsh interrogation techniques: “Sotomayor’s record on the bench, at first glance, appears undistinguished. She will not bring to the table the firepower that many liberal academics are asking for.”
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: “I congratulate Judge Sonia Sotomayor on her nomination by the president to be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. I look forward to examining her record thoroughly during the Senate confirmation process.”
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., member of the Judiciary Committee: “I am impressed that Judge Sotomayor is someone who knows the Constitution and the law, but who also knows America.”
  • Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine: “I commend President Obama for nominating a well-qualified woman.” Delegate Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico.: “Puerto Ricans, both on the island and in the 50 states, take great pride in today’s historic appointment. The story of Sonia Sotomayor is truly an inspiration.” —
  • Wendy Long, counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network: “She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court.”
  • Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens: “The Supreme Court should reflect the diverse population of the U.S. to ensure the highest court understands the unique circumstances of all Americans.”
  • Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: “Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views.”
  • Larry Klayman, founder, chairman and general counsel of Freedom Watch: “While I would have liked to see a more conservative libertarian type on the high court, President Obama’s selection of New York federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor was a very prudent and wise decision from a far left liberal like Obama.” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous: “It brings us one step closer to the inclusive democracy that is the hallmark and promise of our great nation. Judge Sotomayor has the track record, the intellectual fortitude and the life experiences that will serve our nation well.”
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., member of the Judiciary Committee: “The president has chosen a very solid and tested woman as his nominee for the United States Supreme Court.”
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.: “Judge Sotomayor’s remarkable life story is an inspiring example of the American dream, and she has a highly distinguished legal background. She’ll bring intelligence, insight, and experience to the vital work of protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans.”
  • Raul Danny Vargas, national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly: “Her compelling personal story of overcoming adversity to achieve success through hard work and education are to be celebrated. We look forward to a fair and thorough confirmation process, a courtesy some Democrats did not afford to some conservative Hispanic judicial nominees during the Bush administration.”
  • Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.: “I supported Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998 and from all accounts, she is a highly qualified and very experienced judge.”
  • Rush Limbaugh: “A majority of Republicans are going to be scared to death to oppose her … because the Dems are going to use … race, identity politics, minority status, feminism, to criticize me and any other Republican that dares oppose her.”

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Alan Abramowitz “US top court pick may lure Hispanic votes”: Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. population and 9 percent of the electorate and they voted around 68 percent for Obama in 2008, said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “Appointing a Hispanic woman … makes a lot of sense politically” in terms of consolidating Hispanic votes, said Abramowitz. – Reuters, 5-26-09
  • Dennis J. Hutchinson “Sotomayor Would Make It 6 Catholics on the Court”: Experts have been split on what the Catholic majority has meant so far. They point out that Catholics on the bench historically have spanned the spectrum from liberal to conservative. Dennis J. Hutchinson, a court historian at the University of Chicago, noted in 2005 that one of the most liberal Supreme Court justices of the 20th century, William J. Brennan, was a Catholic, and so is one of the most conservative, Scalia. The religious affiliation of the justices is not a burning issue because “we’ve learned that Catholics can be conservative or liberal, and that in terms of judges, ideology trumps any sort of presumption about church doctrine — and that’s true whether the justice is a Protestant, a Catholic or a Jew,” he said. – WaPo, 5-26-09
  • David Garrow “Speculation abounds in upcoming high court vacancy”: “How long the hearings last really depends on who the nominee is,” said David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Supreme Court expert. “If he or she falls into what I call the ‘Breyer category,’ where nobody could find anything objectionable to say about this guy, hearings will be a breeze. If he falls into perhaps the ‘Bork category,’ anything goes.”… – CNN, 5-19-09
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