Sotomayor: A Nominee Everyone Can Fret About

The fact that President Obama was able to trap the GOP with his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is an interesting aspect of the selection, but not the most interesting one.

Republicans are flummoxed about how to oppose the historic selection of a Latina to the highest court in the land, and conservatives are adding immense pressure with their criticism of what they view as her liberal record and controversial statements about race and ethnicity playing a role in her decisions. And there is that 2005 tape of her saying that the circuit court is where policy is made.

But some liberals are scratching their heads as well. In Sotomayor, they aren't sure what they got — on abortion, gay marriage or executive power. The record is murky and the paper trail almost nonexistent. In one ruling Sotomayor appears to have decided in favor of abortion opponents. And she is Catholic. We know Sotomayor will attempt to dodge these questions, as all nominees do, during her hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Obama was clearly looking to dodge the gay marriage issue, which continues to build steam, despite the California Supreme Court decision on Prop 8 this week. Obama is opposed to gay marriage, and a pick of any judge who supported it would have meant not only a bigger fight with Republicans but with his own party as well. Picking Leah Ward Sears, former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, who is African-American and a friend of Clarence Thomas's, would have brought the fight on as well, since she joined a decision against gay marriage.

President Obama wanted his first pick for the Supreme Court to cool the partisan heat that has built during past nomination battles. In the choice of Sotomayor, he has managed to worry both liberals and conservatives and, interestingly enough — achieved his goal.


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