Supreme Court Justice Nominee Sonia Sotomayor: Win-Win for President Obama, Lose-Lose for Sotomayor’s Opponents?

SOTOMAYORChipSomodevilla:Getty

National Journal’s Stuart Taylor deconstructs the politics of President Barack Obama’s Sonia Sotomayor nomination here.

Money quote:

The choice of Sotomayor also puts Republicans and moderate Democrats who may be deeply unhappy with her jurisprudence in a lose-lose position, and Obama in a win-win position. If Republicans attack Judge Sotomayor’s more controversial actions, they risk provoking a backlash among Hispanic voters, who have already been moving into the Democratic column in droves. On the other hand, if Republicans hold their fire to avoid offending Hispanic voters, the president gets the benefit of installing a justice who seems deep into Democratic identity politics without the cost of an especially contentious confirmation battle. The Republican dilemma is underscored by the fact that the Sotomayor actions they might be most eager to attack are themselves especially likely to engage the sympathies of Hispanic voters. In a 2001 speech that I have criticized, for example, Judge Sotomayor suggested that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” This will strike many Republicans as the essence of the ethnic and gender stereotyping that liberals once properly abhorred. But with Republicans already in danger of being seen as the white-male party, rushing to the defense of white males may not be a winning argument politically.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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