In what can only be described as a win-win act of strategic brilliance, president Obama yesterday nominated federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat on the US Supreme Court (a.k.a the Supremes) being vacated by retiring supreme court justice David Souter.
Justice Souter has been the swing vote on the supreme court ever since the previous swing vote, Sandra Day O’Conner retired and was replaced by George W. Bush with conservative Samuel Alito. Considering that Souter was appointed by Bush 1 (W’s dad), who was considerably more centrist than his ultra-right-wing son, Alito’s appointment moved the Supremes more toward the right than it had been. At the time, the GOP ruled both house of congress and essentially rubber-stamped Alito’s, and later supreme court chief justice John Roberts‘ nominations, ensuring the Supremes’ more conservative move would be cast in stone.
It is notable that at the time, the GOP-controlled congress threatened the democratic party minority with what they called the “nuclear option” in the senate, wherein they would change the rules to disallow filibusters on court nominees by the senate’s minority party, which in this case was the democratic party. In other words, the rules allow for the minority party to block a vote on a nominee by talking non-stop until the nominee’s name is withdrawn. The GOP majority was going to eliminate this 200-year-old senate rule so that the minority democrats would be rendered essentially non-existent. At the last minute, this action was averted by an agreement among 14 moderate senators of both parties, known as the “gang of 14“.
It seems the shoe is on the other foot now, since the dems presently control the senate. But in this case, the GOP, which has used its filibuster powers to obstruct the work of the senate in the recent past, probably won’t even try to do a filibuster against Sotomayor, even though many conservatives in the GOP oppose her. Why?
Sotomayor is a Latina of Puerto Rican descent, as well as a woman. She is a highly accomplished judge with 30 years of legal experience, 17 years of which been as a judge. She has previously been nominated for judge on different courts by both republican George Bush 1 and democrat Bill Clinton, and confirmed by the senate both times. She is an example of a person who was born into poverty, and in spite of that, was able to raise herself up through dedication to hard work and education, excelling in both.
She is best classified as a centrist with left-facing leanings, very similar to Barack Obama. Republican ex-presidential nominee John McCain has even said recently that even though he probably wouldn’t have nominated her himself, that elections have consequences and she is the winner’s choice.
The ultra-conservatives in the GOP, who cannot stand anything about Sotomayor including her gender, heritage, and political and judicial leanings, are fixing for a fight in a desperate effort to derail her from final senate confirmation as the next Supreme. In true “Tricky-Dick” Cheney-esque fashion, they are willing to ignore reality and go after her with everything and anything they can find, including statements taken out of context in speeches she has made in the past.
One can only hope that they do. The moribund GOP can only further drive more nails into their own coffin if they go after a Hispanic American woman. Hispanics, after all, make up 48 million of the 300 million-plus American citizens. Even more mathematically significant is that women make up slightly over half of the population. And people who are increasing disgusted with the party they used to identify themselves with, the GOP, are leaving it in increasing numbers.
So if the ultra-conservative Cheney-Rushie core of the GOP, also known as the folks that brought us constitutional destruction, torture, abstinence only sex-education, unbridled corporate corruption, greed, and recession, and generalized world disapproval of the USA want to further exercise their warped judgement and take warped action that further demonstrates the lunacy of the Cheney-Rushie policies, We, the PEOPLE!! says, DO IT!!!! We’ll even hold the microphone for them so they can spout their hatred-mongering tripe at their ultra-extreme ultra-religious-right wing base…and while the rest of the world watches in amusement.
In the meantime, because of the great multi-level choice by president Obama, it’s easy to predict that Sonia Sotomajor will be a hit with the senate and ultimately, with the Supremes themselves. President Obama probably could not have picked another nominee who covers so many political and judicial bases at once.
And when all is said and done, those ultra-extreme right wingers on the GOP side of the senate aisle and their most ardent supporters will lose this fight and lose it huge. And why?
Sometime you just have to pick your fights, and this is the really the wrong one. But the ultra-right is filled with hatred and probably not listening.
And that’s why we love them.