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Sonia Sotomayor: What we learned

Do we know anything more about the Supreme Court nominee after four days of hearings?

After four days of confirmation hearings, “what did we learn about Sonia Sotomayor?” said Eva Rodriguez in The Washington Post. Not much. She played “the game of confirmation politics brilliantly,” so we know she’s “a shoo-in” for the Supreme Court. And thanks to her detailed, frustrating non-answers on issues like gun rights, abortion, and civil rights, we know she’s “fluent in constitutional case law.” Most of the rest is conjecture.

Amazingly, we may actually know less about Sotomayor than before the hearings, said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. “Abortion rights advocates and gun groups on both sides are about equally anxious now,” as are liberals and conservatives generally. In trying to divine “the ‘real’ Sonia Sotomayor,” we might have been better off “with a Magic 8 Ball” than Senate hearings.

After a rare moment of almost-candor, “some observers thought they detected her tipping her hand on abortion rights,” said Charlie Savage in The New York Times. Overall, though, perhaps there’s “meaning in the hearing’s absence of meaning”—maybe Sotomayor really is the cautious, technical judge she appeared to be before the Senate. Certainly, she never got “flustered or upset.”

Sure, she was “moderate in tone and manner” during the “unsatisfying and relatively unilluminating” hearings, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. But that’s nothing new with Supreme Court nominees—“they’re all a mystery going in and then, paradoxically, cover themselves in a long black robe and reveal themselves.” We’ll find out “who she is and how she thinks” soon enough.

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