The Confirmation Hearing for Judge Sotomayor has begun in the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. We will hear a series of opening statements – and then, likely, a couple of days of questions for the aspiring Supreme Court Justice.
This is a real test. But the test is not for Ms. Sotomayor. The test is for Republicans.
In the 1990’s, President Clinton had two opportunities during his tenure to replace Supreme Court Justices – and his picks were the obviously liberal and activist judges, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. These two Justices received precisely 3 and 9 Republican “no” votes, respectively. That was pathetic, given the extent to which Republicans then knew full well that each of these Justices would often times ignore their role to interpret the law in order to seek an outcome based on some other rationale… say, “empathy,” or what is “in their hearts.”
Today and in the coming days, Republicans can choose how to approach the confirmation question of Judge Sotomayor and their decision will say a lot about whether the Republican Party, as a whole, has any fight left in it…
There is no good reason to for any Republican – or any Senator who values the Constitution and the role of judges to, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “call balls and strikes” as an umpire – to vote to confirm Judge Sotomayor given her very public pronouncements on the role of activists judges and her quite apparent penchant for ruling on issues of race with a personal or policy purpose in mind rather than basing her decision on the law and believing her race and sex make her a better judge.
The world is watching, yes. But, conservatives who believe the Republican Party has lost its way in recent years are watching this hearing particularly closely… to see whether Republicans are on the right road – whether they have an ounce of core beliefs that can serve to provide backbone and a will to fight.
This is an easy test. Let’s see if they pass it.