July 14th, 2009
10:47 AM ET

Why we should worry about Sotomayor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/14/sotomayor.childhood/art.graduation.whitehouse.jpg caption="Thernstrom writes that Sotomayor has an impressive life history but worries that the judge will let 'empathy' play too big a role in her decision making on the country's highest court."]
Abigail Thernstrom
Special to CNN

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is all but certain to be confirmed as an associate justice on the Supreme Court. It is close to unimaginable that the Republicans will peel off enough Democratic votes to stop Senate confirmation.

She's a first: a Latina. And she has an impressive life history: Raised in a housing project by a single mother, she went to Princeton and then to Yale Law School. It's a classic American overcoming-the-odds story, but, while admirable, it is not a qualification for the highest court in the land.

Democrats themselves have often implicitly made the same point - about other minority appointees, in fact. They never saw the much humbler origins of Justice Clarence Thomas as an argument for his elevation to the Court.

And they used a filibuster to stop Bush appointee Miguel Estrada from getting a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which they feared would be a springboard to the Supreme Court.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jack L. Ford

    Why has the media and the Senate ignored the "elephant in the room".
    SotoMator if confirmed would become the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court. Could we truly expect fair and impartial judgements on the issues of abortion, gay rights and other controversial moral issues or more and more 5-4 decisions?

    July 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  2. Jim,Calif

    If You listened to the Senators & The Judges responces on the 2nd Amendment – useing the same questions & answers the Gay & Lesbian community can kiss their battle for "Rights" goodbye.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  3. Crystal Curry

    Well the hearings were eye opening ,I did nor realize she was against abortion and so pro gun.Also she did not hold up well under pressure put on her by the Republicans.I don't think she will work for the Blacks.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Arachnae

    "When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing - the barriers that it puts up to them."

    Sotomayor? No, Samuel Alito during his confirmation hearings.

    Apparently 'empathy' is only okay if you're male. or Republican.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  5. carmen carrasquillo

    The only thing they should worry about Sotomayor is that she will bring in a Blast of Culture, that embraces, good food, a Big Heart, a musical step, the ability to create and have a party at a moments notice, she will become a true friend to every colleague, maintain a relationship with everyone, including the janitor, she will demonstrate the aspects of a true Latina nurturing women who lives life, taking nothing for granted, who is very intellegent, and industrious. All the while doing it with the highest integrity. The justices will no doubt, learn the value of a warm heart, and the spirit of pride of what it is to be a daughter of Puerto Rico, and the kid who grew up AMERICANA loving the Yankees, and growing up BRONX, Catholic, with a steaming plate of RICE and BEANS on a cold day, in the projects!

    July 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  6. RLWellman

    It would be fine to dominate this woman if she made her decisions by the law. However, she said herself she makes her decisions by her feelings. 80% of her decisions have been overturned by the supreme court.

    I do not believe she is supreme court material. I for one would not like to have her make these kind of decisions based on her feelings which have shown to be discriminatory. When has reverse- discrimination been the answer to discrimination?

    July 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  7. Teresa, OH

    A while back I thought Sotomayer seemed like a good choice. Of course, none of us really had all the info about her and her decision making skills.

    After watching her for a good length of time during the hearings, I am so disappointed in her behavior under fire. I am very concerned about her nomination. Those fluttering eyelids are such red flags to me I cant seem to get beyond it. Her whole manner of body language and facial expressions are making me very very nervous. And whats with all her note taking and big circling of what she has written?

    But then again, I'm not the one who decides who gets chosen : )

    Something I would ask anyone who got nominated for this position is: why do you think you are CAPABLE of taking on this job and doing a good job?

    July 14, 2009 at 11:36 am |