This week’s Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor may look like a rerun, said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial, but you should still tune in. Sotomayor will play judicial-nominee “rope-a-dope—passively absorbing punishment while letting senators exhaust themselves”—to avoid saying how she’d rule on gun rights, abortion, and affirmative action. But at least you’ll get “a deeper appreciation for the Constitution.”
It would be great if the senators did ask specific questions about the Constitution, said Randy E. Barnett in The Wall Street Journal. Instead, the hearings will be “like ‘Seinfeld,’ a show about nothing,” as senators from both parties inevitably ask meaningless questions about “stare decisis” (precedent) and “the bugaboo of ‘judicial activism,'” telling us a lot about their views but little about Sotomayor’s.
The senators’ views are the thing to watch, actually, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. The “Republican minority does not expect to derail Sotomayor,” since their “attack lines”—that she’s a liberal, race-centric judicial activist—have been met with yawns. So look for them to push the broader argument that the judicial mainstream has shifted right, toward the “extreme (and yes, activist)” conservatives who now control the Supreme Court.
And look for the Democrats to talk about Sotomayor’s up-by-the-bootstraps life story, said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary, instead of the divisive “moral and intellectual relativism and ethnic determinism” liberally sprinkled in her speeches and rulings.
And in the end, “there is little doubt that Sotomayor will be handily confirmed,” said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. But just because the outcome is predictable doesn’t mean that the process won’t have consequences. As Justice Clarence Thomas reminds us, “calling someone an unintelligent, racist bully under the bright lights of C-SPAN leaves scars the nominee may never forgive nor forget.”