Sotomayor to the Supremes

Well by now you know that Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, of the 2nd Circuit, to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court.  Jeffrey Rosen, he of the original smear article in The New Republic from a few weeks ago, commented on the choice on TNR’s blog, the Plank, today:

Of course, Judge Sotomayor should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. She obviously wasn’t my first choice, for reasons I reported three weeks ago, having mostly to do with concerns about her temperament reported to me by former clerks and New York prosecutors. But I hope and assume the White House wrestled seriously with those questions of temperament and weighed them against Sotomayor’s other obvious strengths.

As if any White House (well, with the exception of Dubya, who chose to nominate a woefully unqualified twice-graduate of SMU) wouldn’t weigh the pros and the cons of any potential nominee.  Rosen goes on to sort-of account for his original piece, while standing by the content:

Conservatives are already citing my initial piece on Sotomayor as a basis for opposing her. This willfully misreads both my piece and the follow-up response. My concern was that she might not make the most effective liberal voice on the Court–not that she didn’t have the potential to be a fine justice. Questions of temperament are often overlooked, but history suggests that they are the most relevant in predicting judicial success. (Justice Scalia may be a brilliant bomb-thrower, but has failed in his attempts to build coalitions and bipartisan majorities.) Now is the time to think more broadly about the role Justice Sotomayor is likely to play on the Supreme Court, and I look forward to doing that in the weeks ahead.

How could his concern possibly have been that she wouldn’t be the most effective liberal voice on the Court if he was afraid she was temperamental and not so bright?  The problem is that Rosen’s piece hasn’t just been cited by conservatives.  Its unsubstantiated claims have made the rounds everywhere, even from MSNBC’s own favorite liberal law professor, Jonathan Turley.  Everyone, not least of all the media, loves  a contrarian — Rosen’s article gave credence to that sentiment, whether he meant to or not, in the worst kind of way.





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