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Readers Debate Supreme Court Nominee

President Obama's nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor has generated a flood of comments from our readers, who, for the most part, view the nomination strictly through a political lens.

They either think she's highly qualified or a disaster being foisted upon the nation by an unqualified president. More than 1,600 comments have been filed on one story alone, in which Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher say the nominee is the most controversial of those on the president's short list.

Barnes and Fletcher write that Obama "held fast to the notion, noxious to conservatives and challenging to some Democrats, that some of the answers to the most complicated legal questions come from life's experiences as well as the lawbooks." That point is both attacked and defended by our readers.

We'll start with hpinkus1, who wrote, "Seems to me the Republicans are outflanked once again. They are desperatly trying to make overtures to the Hispanic community and now they face a no-win dilemma. Do they oppose a moderate-liberal Latina for the court and risk losing more ground in the Hispanic community or do they approve her with little or no opposition and further strenthen the gravitas of the President?"

NOLAJD said, "What makes her unqualified? Her Princeton degree, her Yale degree, her Bush appointment to the Fed Bench, her intellect, her Puerto Rican heritage, her gender? Get over it! Obama won and gets to pick HIS choice, not the choice of the right."

cattheanimal wrote, "Sotomayor's remark regarding a judge's legal findings [that a judges' legal findings are informed by their own life experiences] isn't an opinion, it's simply an observation... Not all judges are equally insightful of course, though it helps to recognize this aspect of judging"

kevin1231, pointing to the same statement, said, "Only an idiot, to be found at the right wing institution's like the Washington Post, believes that one's life experience does not play a role in one's thinking, and thus transfor[m] this fundamental truth into controversy."

And jhbyer asked, "Why do Barnes and Fletcher label the President's choice "controversial"? The far right doesn't want life experience to inform judicial opinion but demands that religion. An opinion so hypocritical deserves to be ignored."

mitlen wrote, "Let's see ... Yale law and NYC. Yup, that's real diversity."

averddy asked, "Why is Sotomayor controversial? It seems that her education and record are in line with any nominee. Why is anything President Obama does is labelled "controversial" from the moment he brushes his teeth?"

DaveCheney wrote, "I hope she receives the same polite and courteous reception the Dems provided each and every choice put forth by Republicans. I am sure the Dems short memories will forget how they treated other candidates, and demand quick confirmation."

mtnmanvt said, "...A court which reflects overwhelmingly white male experience does not reflect the life experience of the other 60% (give or take) of the population. How can that be just?"

iacitizen wrote, "Right now, all I want to know is this: does she think the executive branch should have more power? Does she believe the president can lock up people indefintely with no trial? Does she believe the executive branch has a right to wiretap its own citizens? If she does, I think Obama picked her for one reason--to expand his own power..."

MorganaLeFay said, "Wingnut heads would be exploding with rage if Obama had nominated Jesus for the Supreme Court. It's going to be fun watching the hate fest on this one."

Blivet1 wrote, "The Conservatives have Roberts whose empathy is with the wealthy. Now there will be some balance."

daweeni suggested, "I have no idea why we should not have computers replace the Justices. The law is the law, and a computer holding all the body of American laws and legal opinions would be able to make decisions based purely on facts, not emotions, political preferences, life experiences, or any of the other human frailties that make for unconstitutional decisions by activists."

To which abqcleve replied, "You've just, completely unwittingly, made the argument of the day. Why, exactly, DON'T we just use computers, d'ya s'pose????"

amazd wrote, "I have nothing against President Obama's pick; she seems to have an amazing life story and her nomination to the Supreme Court seems justified... It is interesting to read the many comments by the liberals who think that replacing one assured liberal vote with another assured liberal vote will result in a sea change of some sort. It won't."

Honest_Abe said, "Instead of moderating and cooperating the GOP is digging in to fight Obama and change in America. They appear ready to restart the civil war rather than work with President Obama. The "Talibanization" of the GOP has begun. Sickening and scary."

virgosiempre wrote, "Until we STOP identifying people by the country their ancestors immigrated from, we will be a nation divided. Only in the United States do we refer to ancestral lines. Judge Sotomayor is a female and American."

hipshot said, "The major qualification for this job should be the quality of decisions. The way things are shaping up, she is modestly qualified at best. The question is whether the Democrats will have the integrity, honesty, and bravery to oppose this nomination."

noseyten wrote, "In picking Sotomayer, he did pick the very worst candidate he could have picked for this job. One of the most important part of our Supreme Court is that it must be impartial-constitution must always be the first criteria and I have not heard that she necessarily sees things this way... I don't think we can be comfortable having her as a life long member of the Supreme Court..."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  May 27, 2009; 7:59 AM ET
Categories:  Obama , Sotomayor , Supreme Court  | Tags: Obama, Sotomayor, Supreme Court  
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Comments

I don't understand the controversy about her remarks about life & the law.

I have watched in person, and on TV a great many observations made about their own lives by judges.

I suspect if people examined this behavior more broadly, they might reconsider their opinions on the matter.

It seems to me that it is part of a judges duty to act for the community, to do that well, the person must be of the community. To be of the community (or society), that person can not, and should not, ignore themselves in the process.

Posted by: timscanlon | May 27, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Benjamin Cardozo was a man of such honesty, reputation, and ability that he was unanimously confirmed to the Supreme Court. This honest man said he was of the Jewish Faith (non practicing) and of Portuguese ancestry--I don't think that leaves much room for Sotomayor to be hailed as the FIRST HISPANIC on the Supreme Court. Too bad she doesn't have Cardozo's ability. While Hispanic, don't ever make the mistake of assuming a Puerto Rican to be Mexican--or any other Hispanic subgroup for that matter--check with them on their thoughts on that topic.

Posted by: Skerns0301 | May 27, 2009 11:35 AM

Portugese people are not hispanic. They speak Portugese, not Spanish. Call a Brazilian hispanic and see how they respond.

Posted by: billy8 | May 27, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Benjamin Cardozo was a man of such honesty, reputation, and ability that he was unanimously confirmed to the Supreme Court. This honest man said he was of the Jewish Faith (non practicing) and of Portuguese ancestry--I don't think that leaves much room for Sotomayor to be hailed as the FIRST HISPANIC on the Supreme Court. Too bad she doesn't have Cardozo's ability. While Hispanic, don't ever make the mistake of assuming a Puerto Rican to be Mexican--or any other Hispanic subgroup for that matter--check with them on their thoughts on that topic.

Posted by: Skerns0301 | May 27, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

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