The Supreme Court

Judge Sotomayor did not experience a meltdown during her confirmation hearings, so the Senate will confirm her, and she will be the newest Supreme Court Justice.

As far as I can tell, she will be a solid vote for the moderate-liberal wing of the bench.  We will have four justices (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts) who are decidedly conservative by historical standards, one oddball-moderate (Kennedy), and four who are moderate-liberals (Breyer, Stevens, Ginsburg, and a wise Latina).

That sounds lop-sided.

It can’t be easy to select a nominee for the Court.  President Obama was (appropriately) strongly compelled to pick a woman; his Chief of Staff was constantly reminding him of the political benefit of nominating a Latina; his lawyers were looking for the Dumbledore of the law world; his staff desperately desired a smooth confirmation so they could apply their energy to health care and environmental legislation over the summer.  And, since Obama likes to consider himself a pragmatic left-of-center figure, he probably ruled out candidates for being too aggresively liberal.

Why?  Before Sotomayor’s seat (knock on wood) belonged to Justice Souter, Bill Brennan occupied it.  He and Justice Marshall were Scalias for the far left.  Then came Souter, and there went the last liberal justice we’ve had.

Obama understandably wants his nominee to share his points of view.  If he got to replace every sitting justice on the Court, one at a time, he might select nine nominees who were all moderate liberals.  I hope, though, that he would give some thought to balancing the Court’s ideological spectrum.  Why can’t he nominate a fiery liberal and explain that while he may not agree with everything in which he or she believes, he thinks the country is best served when intellectual vitality from all points of view flourishes on the highest court in the land?

If another moderate-liberal justice retires before his term(s) expire, he should nominate Pam Karlan to fill the vacancy.  She is a professor at Stanford Law School.  She happens to be gay (diversity!).

She is:

  • A highly gifted writer
  • Witty (so is Scalia)
  • A Genius
  • Only 50 years old

Here she is discussing the Court’s supporting a ban on late-term abortions:

Wouldn’t that be a fun confirmation hearing?

Other people like her, too:–s.html


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