Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sotomayor and the Law

There is no such thing as THE law. In spite of this Sotomayor is being grilled as whether she will be guided by the law or utilize a set of social values in her future decisions. The questioners don’t really care about her answers, but rather hope to establish the dichotomy in the mind of the public. It is a false dichotomy--the words of the Constitution or precedent cases do not speak for themselves. They must be selected from among various possible candidates, interpreted and extended often to situations that the Constitutional writers could not have imagined.
The implication of the dichotomy is that some of the justices are not guided by social values, but only by a superior cool logic. This is false. Justices such as Scalia and Thomas most certainly have a social agenda. Bush’s nominees were picked with a view to having abortion made unconstitutional, among other things. Have no doubt that the Court found constitutional language that supported their ruling in Roe vs Wade, and will find words to support its repeal if they decide to reverse.
Instead of pretending that justices should not be guided by a social ideology, the Senate should inquire deeply into the nominee's values.


Kenneth said...

Absolutely the Senate needs a new philosopy in reviewing court appointments. Where can we look for the leadership to break out of the mold?? Nominees dodge important questions and Senators have no tact in asking about values, especially when they are towing their partician lines.

What is most laughable to me about the questioning of Sotomayor is how some Senators did not know of the recent Supreme Court deliberations that perfectly demonstrated how a wise women can have life experiences that lead to better jurispudience than a man. In the case of the 13-year old who was strip searched at school (the Redding Case), “They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” Justice Ginsburg said of her eight male colleagues, several of whom had suggested (and even joked from the old boys network) during oral argument that they were not troubled by the search.

“It’s a very sensitive age for a girl,” Justice Ginsburg went on to say in an interview with USA Today. “I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”

She made them understand, even during the public court proceedings. I hope to see such demonstrations of wisdom from Sotomayor too.

Kenneth Libby
Knoxville, TN

Allan Schmid said...

Kenneth, your points are well taken. Thanks,