Sotomayor reminds us that affirmative action is terribly unfair

Justice Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor came to San Francisco and inadvertently made the case that affirmative action terribly unfair — and, moreover, that people are right if they believe, not that it gives qualified minorities a chance, but that it handicaps non-minorities at the expense of any minorities, qualified or not.

Let me unpack that first sentence.  All of us would like to see bright, hard-working kids succeed.  We have an innate sense that it is “fair” that those who work hardest get opportunities.  We approve of scholarships that reach out to poor children, enabling them to get the benefit of their own hard work and intelligence.

What we don’t like is a system that says to completely ordinary kids who make no specific effort:  “You!  Yeah, you.  Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because of your race.”  In the old days, that sentence, more fully written, read “Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because you’re white.”  Looking back now, we realize how heinous it was to spread opportunities unevenly simply because of race.

Yet that’s precisely what affirmative action does — spread opportunities unevenly because of race.  The government, rather than being magisterially even-handed, has taken sides.  Instead of funding scholarships for accomplished young people, it funds scholarships for racially appropriate people (emphasis mine):

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in town Monday to promote her newly released memoir, said she couldn’t talk about affirmative action because of a pending court case. In the next breath, she talked about what it had meant to her – admission to Princeton and Yale Law School and the launching of a legal career.

“I was given the chance to get to the start of the race and it changed my life,” the 58-year-old justice told a sold-out Commonwealth Club audience at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

When she entered Princeton on a scholarship in 1972 despite unspectacular test scores, she recalled, the school was in only its third year of admitting women and had barely a handful of minority students.

Isn’t that nice for Sotomayor?  She got into Princeton despite the fact that she didn’t qualify.  And doesn’t it just suck for the hard-working white or Asian kid who, in that same year, had spectacular test scores (not to mention good grades), but was nevertheless barred from Princeton because Sotomayor took her place?  If Sotomayor had been a brilliant student, it’s probable that none of us would have cared that she, a kid from a dodgy New York neighborhood, was granted admission over a kid from somewhere suburbia.  What grates is that Sotomayor hadn’t earned her place academically.

I recognize that Sotomayor’s opportunity came about in 1972, when affirmative action was meant to be a quick fix — a head start — to make up for the decades of discrimination that immediately preceded those first few years of affirmative action.  What rankles is that, two generations later, we’re still giving a hand up to mediocre people in the name of race.  In other words, we’ve institutionalized racism just as certainly as those Jim Crow people did.  We now frame it affirmatively, in that we boast that we’re pulling some people up, as opposed to pushing other people down, but it’s the same thing:  too often race, not merit, determines who gets to grab the educational and employment gold ring.

Sotomayor seems like a nice, hard-working woman, although I couldn’t disagree more with her approach to the law.  She also seems like someone who benefited from an inequitable program at a time that at least gave some credibility to the program, but who now seeks to use the extraordinary power granted to her to make Leftist Jim Crow laws a permanent part of America’s racist landscape.


*I’d originally written “economically disadvantaged children,” and then thought, “Why am I cluttering my writing with this lardy PC jargon?”  So I changed it to “poor children,” which makes the point just fine.

Your betters in Washington are just more important than you are

There’s still time to make a stand by signing the White House petition urging that we establish “gun free zones” around the President, VP, and their families.  The thinking is that what’s sauce for the goose (we, the People) should definitely be sauce for the gander (our employees in Washington, D.C.). As of now, the Petition needs only 4,511 more signatures.  I would love to see the White House explain why the Progressive privileged few are more important than you and your children.  (I assume they’ll talk about the increased risk to them because of their office, but it seems to me that the residents of Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and L.A. slums are at infinitely greater risk.)

I was reminded again of Progressive double standards when I saw 60 Minutes’ slobbering love letter to Justice Sotomayor.  (Funny, I don’t remember that kind of drooling love for Clarence Thomas, who has an equally compelling life story.)  The story opens with the love-struck reporter taking a walk with Sotomayor through her childhood stomping grounds in the Bronx.  That would be fine, but for the fact that the first minute of the story points out, not once, but twice, that she’s surrounded by armed guards.  First, the reporter makes a verbal point of that fact; then the Bronx segment ends with Sotomayor taking a group shot with the five members of the NYPD drafted to provide her with a type of protection none of her former neighbors will ever see.

From Sotomayor’s armed guards, to Obama’s Secret Service for life, to David Gregory getting a pass for blatantly breaking the law, the message is clear — our Progressive overlords are more important than those who pay their salaries.

Near the end of the 19th century, Anatole France famously quipped that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” The joke, of course, was that the rich would never be caught engaging in those illegal activities. In Obama’s America, the joke has gone one step further: the Progressive elites get to engage in precisely the same activities as ordinary folks do, including illegal acts, but they get to do so wrapped up in cotton wool that protects them from the risks they’ve forced upon the regular Joes in this great country.

Your quote for the day

J.C. Arenas on the laundry list of qualifications for Obama’s Supreme Court picks:

Obama’s first Supreme Court appointment was Sonia Sotomayor, the Bronx-bred daughter of Puerto Rican parents, who supposedly was a valedictorian student with a deficiency in English and become an Ivy-League educated jurist credited with saving Major League Baseball.

Now we have Elena Kagan, the granddaughter of immigrants, who as Dean of Harvard Law, introduced the concepts of civil debate, a faculty lounge, free coffee and tampons.

If this woman has some legitimate qualifications to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, I hope they are presented soon; otherwise I’m going to have a win a year supply of Laffy Taffy to find a bigger joke.

The word “mediocrity” springs to mind.  So does the story Harrison Bergeron.

Wise Latina in on the Supreme Court

It was a foregone conclusion, but it’s still irksome that the RINOs piled on for Sotomayor.  It’s not just that she’s a judicial activist who dislikes self-defense, lies about her record, and shilled for a radical Puerto Rican group.  It’s that the hearings showed something very, very specific about her:  she’s a complete mediocrity.  The woman is as dumb as a somewhat smart post.  She’s a slow thinker.  She’s uninformed.  She’s a tribute, not to brains and hard work, but to affirmative action.

On the good side.  It is entirely possible that the charming and tactful Justice Roberts might be able to move that slow brain into a different world view.  If she were as bright as he, it is likely that she’d be able to match him argument for argument.  As a lesser legal light (heck, a lesser anything light), she might not be able to muster coherent arguments to justify her positions, and may prove to be a very weak liberal link indeed.

Sotomayor a true judge — incoherent *UPDATED*

You know that I don’t like judges.  I’ve certainly made no secret of that fact, and it’s no doubt a by-product of practicing law in a region crawling with activist judges.  Listening to Sotomayor struggle to articulate things — and to avoid her own footprint — in response to Sen. Lindsay Graham’s questioning is painful.  It’s especially embarrassing when you hear her try to explain why the Constitution directly addressed abortion.

(Graham’s questioning, incidentally, is excellent.  He makes incredibly good use of his “good ole boy” persona to leave her without anything to say.  When Sotomayor does answer, her answers are manifestly non-responsive.)

While Sotomayor’s incoherence and weaseling aren’t surprising, what is surprising is the truly nasty attack that Nancy Benac at the AP — the AP! — launched against her:

It’s a good thing Sonia Sotomayor speaks Sotomayoran.

After week upon week in which plenty of other people on the planet interpreted Sotomayor’s past comments, the Supreme Court nominee at last got a chance to deconstruct her own words Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fingers splayed, palms flat, hands bouncing up and then deliberately pressing down to the table, Sotomayor elaborated, clarified, expanded, retracted.

She drew loopy circles on her paper; she ran rhetorical circles around her past words.

“I didn’t intend to suggest …” she explained.

“What I was speaking about …” she offered.

“As I have tried to explain …” she parsed.

“I wasn’t talking about …” she demurred.

She was a tough critic at times.

“I was using a rhetorical flourish that fell flat,” she averred.

“It was bad,” she said. Of her own words.

You really have to read the whole thing to get the flavor.  Benac is hostile.  It’s bizarre coming from an AP writer.  I wonder how long Benac will have a job.

UPDATE:  Welcome, Instapundit readers!  This is, of course, the obligatory (and heartfelt) “stop and look around” message.  I really do mean it, though.  Much as I’m delighted that you’re visiting this post, it’s not the best representation of how I write.  If you want to see whether I’m worth visiting again, you’ll get a better sense of me by reading this post (which is one of my periodic better efforts), or this one (which is pretty typical for me).

UPDATE II:  For more on the fact that Sotomayor is not merely imbecilic, but is also dishonest, Jennifer Rubin is a great place to start.  The question then, and it’s a question only for intellectual entertainment, is whether she knows she’s lying or whether she’s a pathological narcissist whose version of the absolute truth is always defined by the needs of the moment.

What I wish some senator would say to Sotomayor *UPDATED*

The Washington Post is warning Republican senators not to be mean to poor Judge Sotomayor.  It’s a funny (inadvertently funny) article, because the Post editors acknowledge that Obama was anything but gracious when he was a Senator; then they explain why, even though he wasn’t gracious, he was right; and then they urge Republicans to be totally nice to Sotomayor, presumably because Obama is still right.

Of course, the main reason Republicans are being told to be nice is because Sotomayor is a woman and a Hispanic.  If I were a senator, my opening statement, before I began my questions, would be short and sweet:

Welcome, Judge Sotomayor.  Before I begin my questions about your qualifications and your understanding of a Supreme Court justice’s role, I’d like to address one thing.  My questioning will be rigorous.  I will not offend you, and every woman and Hispanic in America, by acting as if either your sex or your ethnic identity have rendered you incapable of standing up to the same brisk scrutiny as any other judicial candidate who has appeared before this body.

Mine is a constitutional role and I take it very seriously.  The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal in this land, and it is the court that it is responsible for ensuring that the laws of this land comport with the Constitution.  I would therefore be remiss in my duty, and insulting to you, if I treated you as a lesser being by denying you the opportunity fully to explain your views.

UPDATE: More on the race issue.  After you’ve what Tom Elia has at his blog, come back and tell me if Jesse Washington’s comments make any sense at all.

Follow the money

Something very weird is going on when a woman has worked 25 plus years as a lawyer (in both the private and public sector), but has only about $1,000 in savings, and less than $1,000,000 in equity.

Financial records may show that (a) she gave everything to charity; (b) she gave everything to poor relatives; (c) she had terrible and costly health problems; (d) that she has a drug or gambling problem; or (e) that she is, and always had been, profligate beyond reason.  Suggestions (a) through (c) would speak well of the woman; possibilities (d) and (e) would speak badly of her, especially if she were being put forward to fill a job that requires wisdom, balance, and an understanding of the way business and money work.

I’m talking, of course, of Sonia Sotomayor, and the bizarre case of the missing money.   I wonder if this summer’s hearings will delve into this interesting little mystery.

Peeling off the Sotomayor layers

Phyllis Chesler wrote a nice column today reminding conservatives (a) not to Bork Sotomayor (because two wrongs definitely don’t make a right); and (b) to make sure to develop Sotomayor’s understanding of the Constitution and her role as a judge — because, after all, that is what this whole job interview is about.

Because of the good news/bad news that keeps flowing from Sotomayor’s sudden presence in the popular consciousness (which shows her as a potentially racist, potential protector of the First Amendment; potential identity politics ideologue, potential Catholic voter on abortion, etc.), Chesler is absolutely right about approaching Sotomayor with both diligence and respect.  The same good news/bad news cycle also reminded me of the Simpson’s episode “Hungry are the Damned.”  Pay close attention to the cookbook scene:

Sotomayor’s good instincts on free speech

Sotomayor’s statements about judges (better if they’re female and minority) and their role (to make policy) have been disturbing.  It’s worth nothing though that, as James Taranto points out that, on at least one occasion Sotomayor came out strongly in favor of free speech, even though it was very ugly speech:

Sotomayor Plays Against Type

Blogger Tom Goldstein has a roundup of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and one First Amendment case caught our attention. Here’s Goldstein’s summary:

One of her more controversial cases was Pappas v. Giuliani, involving an employee of the New York City Police Department who was terminated from his desk job because, when he received mailings requesting that he make charitable contributions, he responded by mailing back racist and bigoted materials. On appeal, the panel majority held that the NYPD could terminate Pappas for his behavior without violating his First Amendment right to free speech. Sotomayor dissented from the majority’s decision to award summary judgment to the police department. She acknowledged that the speech was “patently offensive, hateful, and insulting,” but cautioned the majority against “gloss[ing] over three decades of jurisprudence and the centrality of First Amendment freedoms in our lives just because it is confronted with speech is does not like.”

In her view, Supreme Court precedent required the court to consider not only the NYPD’s mission and community relations but also that Pappas was neither a policymaker nor a cop on the beat. Moreover, Pappas’s speech was anonymous, “occur[ring] away from the office on [his] own time.” She expressed sympathy for the NYPD’s “concerns about race relations in the community,” which she described as “especially poignant,” but at the same time emphasized that the NYPD had substantially contributed to the problem by disclosing the results of its investigation into the racist mailings to the public. In the end, she concluded, the NYPD’s race relations concerns “are so removed from the effective functioning of the public employer that they cannot prevail over the free speech rights of the public employee.”

We’re not sure where we come down on this particular case, but we like Sotomayor’s instinct to err on the side of protecting speech–an instinct that was a hallmark of “liberal” jurisprudence in the days of the Warren court but really is not anymore.


If President Obama’s first nominee turns out to be an old-style liberal with a reverence for free speech, the country could have done a lot worse.

I was also interested to read that there is concern on the Left that Sotomayor, a Catholic, is not a reliable vote on Roe v. Wade.  I won’t go into my abortion ambivalence here (sufficie it to say that I’m more pro-Life than I was, but less pro-Life than I could be), but I do find it interesting that her own fans are worried.

The easy attack on the 32 words

You can’t read a blog, attend a press conference, read a paper, or even think about Sotomayor without those 32 words popping into your head:

“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.”

Because the remark makes statements about people based on their race and sex, many have reached the obvious conclusion that Sotomayor was being racist and sexist.  Democratic partisans have rushed to her defense by contending that only racists and sexists would find a remark defining people by race and attribute to be, in fact, racist and sexist.  (Clearly, these people have been studying at the Humpty Dumpty school of English:  `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’)

But isn’t there a much more obvious, less racially and sexually charged way to read that language, and one that reflects equally poorly on Sotomayor?  Let’s look at the context of her 32 words, as Jake Tapper did:

The larger context of the sentence is Sotomayor 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 says. “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. “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

“However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give,” she continued. “For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

She went on to say that “each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”

As you can see, the starting point for this discussion was O’Connor’s race and sex blind statement that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”  (One could argue that this is ageist but, considering that we all hope to attain some degree of age, it’s hard to put a lot of weight behind that argument.)

Sotomayor’s approach to challenging this argument was to wander a little bit through selective judicial  history, and then to launch into discussion about her own race and sex, and her own life and experiences.  Her reference to that incredibly wise Latina woman must be seen in that context.  I’m therefore willing to bet that Sotomayor had not a thought in her head for the Latina saleswoman working in Macys, scrubbing someone’s floors, or doing duty as middle level management in a major American corporation.  This is all about Sotomayor.  In her estimation, she is that wise Latina woman.

In other words, Sotomayor has stumbled across the ultimate in identity politics:  she’s put herself into a victim class of ONE — herself.

As for me, the thought of having someone so self-centered sit in judgment on my case, or on legal issues that will affect me, is terrifying — almost more terrifying than if she was the racist and sexist her detractors claim her to be.

The preview of an Obama court

Are you wondering what an Obama court will look like?  You don’t need to look very far.  If you haven’t yet read Christina Hoff Sommers’ wonderful 1995 book, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, run out right now and get a copy.

Generally speaking, the book is about the difference between equity feminists (a view held by most Americans who believe that women should get equal treatment under the law and equal work for equal pay) and gender feminists (who have embraced victimhood and who hate men). Hoff Sommers makes compelling arguments about the insanity of the latter approach, and the death of the former.

While every chapter is well worth reading, the one chapter that’s stuck with me almost 15 years later is the one that predicts a Sotomayor/Obama court.  In this chapter (and I don’t have a copy in front of me), Hoff Sommers describes her attendance at a conference for feminist academics — or, more accurately, gender feminist academics.  Before these academics could even get to the business of the conference, they had to get to the even more serious business of putting in proper heirarchical order the various degrees of victimhood represented at the conference.

Even without the book to guide me, I have vivid memories of black feminists duking it out with lesbian feminists who are outraged by the demands made by handicapped hispanic feminists.  Each of these little feminist academic subsets was absolutely certain that its handicap (sex, race, sexual orientation, physical disability, etc.) entitled it to some special regard within the confines of the seminar — and, most certainly, out in the wide world.

You can see the parallels between a viewpoint that claims all attendees are not equal at a conference and all citizens are not all equal under the law.  Inevitability, once such a regime is enshrined, the special interest groups start duking it out over who is the most special.  The end result is people groveling before judges to assert their special victim status, while the judges, certain that they are founts of special wisdom because they have cast off the shackles of the traditional patriarchal legal system, opine from the bench about who is the most pathetic of all.

Nor is this scenario hypothetical or confined merely to the groves of academe.  I’ve worked a long time in the San Francisco Bay Area legal system and can tell you that, once all the white men and corporations have been cast into the dirt (which is already par for the course in many Bay Area courts), the fight is on to determine which group or person is sufficiently pathetic to become the recipient of the court’s identity politics beneficence.  The concept of equality at the law has no place here.  It’s anarchy.

This system is also insanely unreliable.  Although Sotomayor testified before the Senate back in 1998 that the law is meant to be unreliable (a statement I heard her make on the radio, but can’t find now), the fact is that the only good legal system is one that is reliable.

It is impossible for a business or an individual to plan ahead if it or he cannot predict with reasonable certainty what it’s rights are.  How can a bank make a loan if it cannot rely on the loan papers and the law to enforce that debt, but must instead rely on the court’s goodwill?  In a fight between a bank and a business, there’s a 50-50 chance the lender will win, unless of course the debtor business is women or minority (or gay or lesbian) owned.  In a fight between a bank and an individual, since banks are categorically evil, the bank will always lose.

It’s clearly a short term pleasure for the tyrannical activist justice to reach this ruling, but a long term disaster as banks refuse to grant loans and fail.  (Although, with the US owning banks now, I guess that was a lousy hypothetical.  The banks will continue to grant loans and they won’t fail because we, the taxpayers, are clearly stuck with paying for all the bad loans.)  California’s business exodus isn’t simply a result of high taxes; it’s also a result of grossly unfair judicial rulings.  Here are just two examples (and please pardon the poor formatting on the second example, which is a very old post I wrote while still at my Blogger site).

This way lies madness.

Fisking some of the Sotomayor cheering *UPDATED*

The applause from Sotomayor on the Left is, you’ll pardon me for saying, canned.  They know Sotomayor is not a solid judicial candidate, so they’re focusing on the usual race and sex packaging.  The excitement isn’t there.  This is rote identity politics.  A good example is Ruth Marcus’s column applauding Obama’s choice, which I reproduce, not in its entirety, but only with the statements I wanted to fisk:

And yet the arguments for picking Sotomayor were awfully strong. Her life story is compelling in a way that mirrors Obama’s own amazing trajectory: the child of Puerto Ricans, rising from the public housing projects of the Bronx to the pinnacles of the legal profession, overcoming adversity (childhood diabetes, the early death of her father) along the way.  [The standards for a compelling life story keep dropping lower and lower.  Apparently the ingredients are ambition, one missing parent, possible health issues and -- and this is the important one -- minority status, coupled with the correct politics.  As Sally Zelikovsky points out, minority status coupled with the wrong politics is not compelling.  No way.  And as I've pointed out, given that Sotomayor went through Ivy League schools, just as Obama did (and, as with Obama, I'm willing to bet that she got in through affirmative action), and given that she's sucked at the government teat ever since then, her life story is as compelling as a rock.  Also, if I hear the trite phrase "compelling life story" one more time, I'm going to scream.]

She brings an impressive breadth of credentials and experience, from the grittiness of the Manhattan district attorney’s office to the rarefied precincts of intellectual property law to the nuts-and-bolts life of a trial court judge.  [That's meaningless.  I have no idea what Marcus thinks the "rarefied precincts of intellectual property law" are.  I've been there and done that.  Mostly it's a lot of document review.  As for being a trial court judge, the vast percentage before whom I've appeared are either power hungry or activist or idiots, or some combination of all three.  It's not much of a recommendation.]

And the obvious attractions, both symbolic and practical, of having the first African-American president name the first Hispanic to the high court were not lost on Obama. The Sotomayor choice, of course, satisfies an important Democratic Party constituency; if health care and climate change end up eclipsing immigration reform this year, a Hispanic justice can help reduce the grumbling.  [Aha!  Here's the meat behind the pander.  Things aren't going well for Obama, so he's throwing a bone to Hispanics in hopes that he everyone will stop complaining.  Sadly, it will probably work, at least in the short term.]

Since Obama is likely to have more than one high court spot to fill, picking a Hispanic woman for the first vacancy gives him maximum flexibility for the future — maybe even a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, a somewhat endangered species among the justices.  [At least she's honest.  But given the rubric of identity politics, what kind of WASP does she have in mind?  A lesbian?  A straight female?  Couldn't be a man, of course, no matter how brilliant and admired he is.]


Indeed, Sotomayor’s supposed assertiveness may have been a plus in Obama’s eyes.

“The question for him was, ‘Is this a person who’s got the toughness, the intellectual capacity, to stand up to John Roberts?’ ” said one senior administration official. “He came out of his interview with her on Thursday and said that he had no concerns whatsoever about her intellectual ability to stand up to Roberts.”  [Pretty much tells you what Obama wants in a judge.  He doesn't want the best legal mind.  He wants someone to carry out his agenda, and who is too dumb to back away from a fight with intellects greater than hers.]


I’d also like to hear more from Sotomayor herself about some out-of-court statements — for instance, this from a 2001 speech:

“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.”

A bit of hyperbole in the service of diversity (my guess) or a disturbing bit of identity politics (as the National Journal’s Stuart Taylor sees it). Forgive me, though, if I detect a whiff of sexism in the bully-on-the-bench rap; somehow I doubt that a male judge would be so chided for being firm with litigants.  [So let me see if I understand this:  to defense to a manifestly racist and sexist statement from Sotomayor is to . . . accuse her challengers of being sexist.  Is there no serious argument left in this world?]

Ditto, with a bit of racism thrown in, the barely sourced and inadequately supported suggestion of Sotomayor as an intellectual lightweight. I find it awfully hard to reconcile that with graduating summa cum laude from Princeton.  [Sad to say, I can't get excited about her graduating summa cum laude from Princeton.  For one thing, getting good grades in college is an entirely different skill set from being a quality legal analyst, a fact to which I can personally attest.  A legal brain is a rather unique thing.  If it's allied to an intelligent person, that's great, but not all intelligent people have good legal brains.  The other thing is that the Ivy Leagues and other top private colleges are renowned for grade inflation.  For one thing, since parents are paying through the nose for the privilege of their children attending these schools, the schools want to give bang for the buck, with bang translating, not as a good education, but simply as good grades.  Also, teachers are afraid to give minorities bad grades.  When it comes to these schools, the product is so cheapend, anyone with sense takes its reports with a grain of salt.]

In any event, for all the disparaging of hearings as useless Kabuki, in my experience they’ve served remarkably well in elucidating, for better (David Souter, Roberts) or worse (Clarence Thomas), the nominee’s intellectual capacity and temperament.  [Did I just understand Marcus to rank Souter up with Roberts as an intellectual, while denigrating Thomas?  I'm speechless.  Has she ever read anything these judges have written?  I have.  Roberts is a delightful writer and a first class thinker.  Thomas is a business-like writer and a first class thinker.  Souter is an idiot.]

As to the portrayal of Sotomayor as flaming liberal, I defer to the judgment of Tom Goldstein of the invaluable ScotusBlog:

“There is no question that Sonia Sotomayor would be on the left of this Supreme Court, just not the radical left,” he wrote. “Our surveys of her opinions put her in essentially the same ideological position as Justice Souter.”  [Um, so she's a liberal idiot?  And this is a recommendation?]

Bottom line:  Marcus’ optimism notwithstanding, Sotomayor doesn’t have the chops to make much of a difference on the court.  She is indeed a perfect replacement for Souter, since she’s about his intellectual and ideological equal. Jennifer Rubin explains, though, what’s really going on here, which is a bit more worrisome:

[T]he president is not concerned about an intellectual powerhouse who can lure Justice Kennedy to “his side.” He thinks there will be plenty of time to tip the court with future nominations. He wanted a constituent-pleasing, safe “liberal” vote on the court.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin just savages the “compelling life story” pabulum.  Is this beautiful, or what?

If Sotomayor were auditioning to be Oprah Winfrey’s fill-in host, I’d understand the over-the-top hyping of her life narrative. But isn’t anybody on Sotomayor’s side the least bit embarrassed by all this liberal condescension?