28 May 2009

Doubts on Sotomayor

As I discussed here, Obama's first Supreme Court nomination constitutes a practical test of what his true convictions are. Far too important to be dismissed as merely symbolic, such a pick will affect the course of the country for decades, either broadening or constricting personal freedom and individual rights depending on whether the choice is good or bad.

That Sonia Sotomayor is a woman and Hispanic means nothing to me one way or the other. I am concerned about the decisions that will come down, not about the gender or ethnicity of the person making those decisions.

And on the most pivotal issue likely to come before the Supreme Court at some point in the future, Roe vs. Wade, there are some grounds to think Sotomayor may not be reliable. According to the White House spokesman quoted, Obama did not even ask her for her views on the issue. If this is true (which, for obvious reasons, it may very well not be), it is unforgivable. The Democratic margin in the Senate is so large that the Republicans could not block his nominee, so he had no reason (or, rather, excuse) to make any concessions to their prejudices when making such an important decision. It is difficult to imagine a more fundamental personal right than the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and it is precisely this right which has been the target of the most sustained attack from religious fanatics in this country since 1973. We are entitled to expect that a Democratic President would give us a nominee who can be relied on to defend that right, if nothing else.

It has to be stressed that it's too early to tell yet whether this is a real problem. Many judges do what judges are supposed to do, and uphold the law regardless of personal beliefs -- consider how many Supreme Court judges appointed by Republican Presidents have ended up voting to defend abortion rights. Several of Sotomayor's decisions which are cited had to do with China's policy of forced abortion, something no pro-choicer can support, and none of them were related to Roe vs. Wade. NARAL is on the case, urging Senators to get clarification of her views during the confirmation process. The situation bears close watching.

Update 1: Blogger Greg Sargent considers the problem here.

Update 2 (29 May): Kudos to the White House for addressing the issue.


Blogger Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I suspect it isn't true.

04 June, 2009 13:11  

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