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May 03, 2009

Judge Sotomayor: "The Court is Where Policy is Made"

Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the likely candidates to replace Justice Souter. Chuck Schumer has been pushing her name and she meets Obama's stated interest in increasing diversity on the bench (she's Hispanic).

So, what kind of judge is she? Morgen, of the blog Verum Serum, found this:

"All of the legal defense funds out there-- they're looking for people with court of appeals experience. Because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law. [Laughs] I know. I know. [Laughter] I'm not promoting it, I'm not advocating it, I'm...y'know."

Check out that hand wave at the end. She walks it back, sure, but there's no question what she believes. She thinks she gets to make policy and she knows that she's not supposed to say that out loud. This is what Obama is looking for on the bench.

Incidentally: This is probably a good time for a discussion about timing. Morgen, who found this, had a tough choice. He's found something juicy, but it may be even better to sit on it for a while (like, say, until Obama nominates Sotomayor for something). On the other hand, if he sits on it, someone else may find it and break it first.

There's a limit on the effectiveness of stuff like this. If the Reverend Wright stuff had come to light in October, the last election may have turned out differently. But by the time the election rolled around everybody had adapted to it, justified it in their own minds, and moved on. It was "old news" and not worth getting upset about.

Of course, once people started scrutinizing Wright it all came out. It was over and done. That's what news media (and blogs) are about. Getting the story and sharing it. The same can be true for Obama's likely choices to replace Souter.

Everybody's looking at Sotomayor, Kagan, and Wood now, but whoever Obama wants probably won't be nominated until mid-June at the earliest. The real deadline isn't until October, when the Court's next term begins, although the President is going to want to give his choice an opportunity to get settled and hire clerks. All this attention now might give the moderate Democrats, who might have a problem with Judge "I Make Policy" Sotomayor or the other likely nominees, time to adapt.

I'm not criticising Morgen. I'm just saying, sometimes it's a balancing act. Just like the legacy media, bloggers are advocates. We want certain outcomes and in this case Morgen and I want Obama to end up with pie on his face before the Souter seat is filled. But we also want to break big stories and scoop the rest of the blogs.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:25 PM

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