Tag Archives: Sonia Sotomayor

Eric Holder to the Rescue?

If there’s one area of the Obama presidency that’s been vexing to many of his strongest supporters, it’s been his reluctance to take a hard look at the past sins of his predecessor.

Specifically, questions about torture, illegal surveillance and the like have been given short shrift by this president.

torture

The thinking of his inner circle seemed to be that dredging up the past serves no purpose, even if laws were broken. That rationale was bogus from the start.

Now it looks like things are changing, and light may finally be shed on alleged misdeeds of the Bush cabal. The president and his people, or at least most of them are starting to realize that some of the stuff Bush and his people allegedly did can’t be ignored. The “let’s move on” school has suffered a serious setback. With allegations that the CIA, at the behest of Dick Cheney, put together a counterterrorism program without letting Congress know, and that Attorney General Eric Holder may name a special criminal prosecutor to probe whether US interrogators tortured suspected terrorists, those who have been pressing the administration to get the facts have new and potent ammunition.

Even the naming of a prosecutor may not go far enough if all they’re looking at is some CIA grunt who may have gone too far. Who were the lawyers, who were the policymakers who either affirmed the use of torture or looked the other way when they knew it was happening? The narrow focus of a Justice Dept. probe may not get all the facts. And of course, there’s already pushback from Republicans with a raft of silly pronouncements about why there should be no investigation at all.

“What’s going to be the positive result”? asks John McCain. “This is a terrible trend”, argues Texas Senator John Cornyn. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama could only come up with Dick Cheney’s service to his country. All these arguments are so weak as to be laughable.

However, don’t think for a minute that some of these Republicans won’t try to hold Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court hostage to stop any serious attempt to hold anyone accountable.

Think it can’t happen? Think again. Washington ‘Beltway’ politics is a strange and often ugly thing to watch.

Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing starts Monday. Watch some of these same senators try to drag out that hearing while at the same time, on the down low, they try to horse trade with President Obama. This is where AG Holder comes in. There are reports that, even though he’s been a reluctant convert to the idea of looking at this stuff, he’s not really on board with the idea that the president’s political advisors were calling the shots against a serious investigation.

So, is it Eric Holder to the rescue,

eric.holder

or does the Obama Administration need to go even further in probing Bush era misdeeds?

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Will Repubs Go After Sotomayor?

First, before I get started, from by blog post, “Who will POTUS pick for SCOTUS?” on May 4th comes this.

“Based on what I know about her, and the politics of the moment, I’m going with Sonia Sotomayor”

sotomayor

Hah!!! Don’t want to say I told you so, but this time I got it right. Sonia Sotomayor is the right choice for this court vacancy for a whole bunch of reasons. She has, you see, the legal background and life experience to make ann outstanding Supreme Court Justice. Sure, the Mitt Romneys of the world will call her nomination “troubling”. Fortunately for the nation, he’s not president.

Yet the short answer to the question at the top of this post is, “not as hard as you might think”. Republican elected officials, unlike those who carry their water in the media, realize what extraordinary damage the immigration issue did to their party among Latinos. To rake Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina nominated to the highest court in the land, over the coals would doom the GOP among Latinos for years to come.

No, they’ll leave the heavy lifting to their shadow government on talk radio and cable television. Let’s see now, who have we got here? Rush Limbaugh. Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and don’t forget Lou Dobbs and Joe Scarborough, although they’re not as reliable as the first group. These will be the warriors the Republicans will use while members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on camera mind you, tell her how inspiring her life story is.

What shouldn’t be missed is this. Sonia Sotomayor is not a story without substance. Her nomination shouldn’t simply be seen as the first Latina and the third woman in the history of the court. She brings serious chops to the job. She’s been on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for more than a decade. You don’t get that far being a lightweight.

As I said in the May 4th post, all of those being considered for this job had serious qualifications. We should have expected nothing less from a president who used to be a law professor. What will be interesting going forward is the measure of bipartisan support her nomination receives. If Samuel Alito can be confirmed by a vote of 58-42, Sonia Sotomayor should pass muster no problem.

Unless, of course, you think the conservative echo chamber can kill a Supreme Court nomination single handed. Are they dumb and egocentric enough to think they can?

You tell me.

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Who Will POTUS Choose for SCOTUS?

Already one media report says the eight people smart enough to choose Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby should be found and polled to see who they think President Barack Obama should nominate to the US Supreme Court. One thing is for sure. Speculating about who the nominee will be has become a parlor game, which should surprise no one. It began seconds after Justice David Souter announced he’d be stepping down. There are already lists of possibles, likely picks, and outside chances. 

People shouldn’t underestimate this president’s capacity to surprise, either. He’s talked about a nominee’s need to have empathy with everyday Americans, and that’s a good thing. He’s carefully avoided saying the person he chooses should have particular positions on hot button issues like abortion or privacy rights. That’s just smart politics. One central question is whether he’ll nominate a woman, which is a potential minefield although it shouldn’t be.

After all, Laura Bush was on the record as being disappointed her husband didn’t nominate a woman to replace Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006. Currently the only woman on the high court is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So nominating a woman shouldn’t be seen as unusual, or even as identity politics, which is how some conservatives have already tried to frame it. There are several names being prominently mentioned, all of which would make great justices.

They include Diane Wood, who knows the president from when they both taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Elena Kagan is currently solicitor general, and a former dean of the Harvard Law School. If nominated, she’d be the first open lesbian on the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor has been touted as Obama’s most likely choice even before he became president. She’s from the Bronx, and currently sits on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals. She’d be the first ever Latina to sit on the court . Another possible choice is the current governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. She’s a former attorney general, which gives her the required legal chops for the job.

Others mentioned in media reports include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kathleen Sullivan, director of Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center, Leah Ward Sears, the first black woman to serve as a state chief justice, and Cass Sunstein, appointed by the president to be regulatory czar.

President Obama could choose any one of these folks, or none. Republicans in the Senate who will decide the fate of the president’s choice seem resigned to the idea he won’t be picking a conservative, but their friends in media and the conservative echo chamber have reportedly drawn up a laundry list of problems with the most likely nominees. One thing is for sure. The close scrutiny of all things Obama will mean this nomination process will be very much out in the open. The outcome could signify a new awareness among Americans about the importance of the highest court in the land.

Since I didn’t bother handicapping the Derby, I feel comfortable speculating here. Based on what I know about her, and the politics of the moment, I’m going with Sonia Sotomayor. After all, she’s from the Bronx!

What about you? Who do you think President Obama will nominate to the Supreme Court?

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