There are only two women on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and no Hispanics, so this morning it has been one white male after another telling Sonia Sotomayor he is “proud” of her. The Republicans are also going mental over a nominee who has spent two decades giving speeches at events with titles like “Women in the Judiciary” or “Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation.” As Monica Youn has pointed out,John Roberts was rarely asked to keynote such events. Maybe that’s why he never gave a speech attempting to explain how being a white guy informs his constitutional thinking.
I think this morning’s hearings gave a pretty good taste of what’s coming down the pike: Republicans on the committee are gunning for President Obama almost more than Judge Sotomayor. Democrats don’t much care for John Roberts. The main Republican line of attack seems to be that her vast judicial record is actually irrelevant; it’s three sentences from her many speeches that reflect who she really is and—as John says—what she’s poised to become once confirmed. Lindsey Graham said he never wants to see “milquetoast” justices who never believed passionately in anything. But then he scolded her for what she has said out of the robe. This relentless focus on Obama and the so-called “empathy” standard allows Sotomayor to simply say—if they ever allow her to speak here—that she adheres to the rule of law. As Graham warned her, “I have no idea of what’s in your heart any more than you know what’s in my heart.”
Stay tuned this afternoon as she lets us know what’s in her heart: a deep, passionate, and irrational love for the Constitution, precedent, and the rule of law.