Supreme Court Watch

By Dan Froomkin
12:15 PM ET, 05/28/2009

Julie Hirschfeld Davis writes for the Associated Press: "Republicans see little chance of blocking Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, a key GOP senator conceded Wednesday. But senators and advocacy groups are still girding for this summer's battle — partly with an eye toward raising money and perhaps preparing for Barack Obama's next nominee."

Robert Barnes writes in The Washington Post: "The White House enlisted lawyers and constitutional experts to say that in Sotomayor's 17 years on the federal bench, she has been a cautious jurist who respects precedent. But conservative legal groups countered that her remarks in speeches and symposiums bolster their claims that she is a liberal activist waiting to flower on the high court."

The New York Daily News reports: "Never ones to shy away from a fight -- even a losing one -- the Holy Trinity of the GOP -- Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh -- have taken to calling the Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor a 'racist,' with Gingrich even going so far as to ask her to withdraw."

Frank Newport writes for Gallup: "Americans' first reactions to the news of President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court are decidedly more positive than negative, with 47% rating the nomination as 'excellent' or 'good,' 20% rating it 'only fair,' and 13% rating it 'poor.'...

"Gallup conducted similar reaction polls immediately after former President George W. Bush's nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court in 2005. Although in all instances, the reactions were more positive than negative, the net positive rating (the percentage excellent or good minus the percentage only fair or poor) was highest for Roberts and Sotomayor, and lowest for Alito and Miers."

Peter Baker and Adam Nagourney write in the New York Times: "In the months leading up to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s selection this week, the White House methodically labored to apply lessons from years of nomination battles to control the process and avoid the pitfalls of the past, like appearing to respond to pressure from the party’s base or allowing candidates to be chewed up by friendly fire....

"From the beginning, Mr. Obama had been focused on Judge Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge from New York, officials said Wednesday. She had a compelling life story, Ivy League credentials and a track record on the bench. She was a Latina. She was a woman. She checked 'each of the grids,' as Mr. Obama’s team later put it. And by the time the opportunity arrived, it became her nomination to lose....

"Recalling nominations that had foundered on poor research, the White House team assigned two inside lawyers to vet each candidate’s public speeches and rulings and recruited outside law firms to examine each candidate’s personal finances, taxes, medical history and ethics."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "President Obama seems to have made an inspired choice in picking Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. She has an impressive judicial record, a stellar academic background and a compelling life story. Judge Sotomayor would also be a trailblazing figure in the mold of Thurgood Marshall, becoming the first member of the nation’s large and growing but still under-represented Hispanic population to serve on the court."

E.J. Dionne Jr. write in his Washington Post opinion column: "In his September 2005 speech explaining his vote against [now Chief Justice John] Roberts, Obama...insisted that Roberts 'far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak' and 'seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process.'

"Obama believes Roberts's subsequent behavior on the court has justified his initial suspicions. He hopes that Sotomayor will be the anti-Roberts, a person whose experience growing up in the projects of the South Bronx will allow her to see life and the quest for justice in a way Roberts never will."

Karl Rove, in his Wall Street Journal opinion column, jumps into the Empathy War with both feet: "'Empathy' is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn't pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would generate voter backlash."

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