Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama Picks Sotomayor For Court (UPDATED with Obama and Sotomayor remarks)

President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge in New York, as the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court Monday, saying she has a “a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court Justice.”

Watch the video:

Again, from Politco.com:

“Walking in the door she would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the Supreme Court had when they were appointed,” Obama said at the White House, with Sotomayor by his side.

In Sotomayor, Obama has chosen a nominee who will greatly please two powerful constituencies in his own party — women and Hispanics — that had openly lobbied for one of their own to replace Justice David Souter.

Beyond pure politics, Obama has found somebody whose unlikely ascent to power is similar to his own life story. Obama highlighted Sotomayor’s humble roots. She grew up not far from Yankee Stadium in a Bronx Housing project. The daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor lost her father at 9 and was largely raised by her nurse mother.

“It is experience that can give a person a common touch, and a sense of compassion, a sense of how the world works and how ordinary people live, that is why it is necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court,” Obama said.

Obama said he looked for two qualities in his nominee – a rigorous intellect and an understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret law, not make it – and said he found both in Sotomayor.

Of the four widely reported finalists, Sotomayor was the one Republicans said they would complain most loudly about, and conservative legal groups attacked within minutes after Obama’s selection was reported.

Hispanic groups and even members of Congress had pushed hard for representation on the court, suggesting that the community would be let down if Obama passed over a qualified Latino. In fulfilling their wishes, Obama moves to solidify his hold on the pivotal Hispanic vote and tighten his party’s grasp on the west.

Even Republicans admit her confirmation is assured in a Senate dominated by Democrats.

But Senate Republicans say Sotomayor represents anything but a consensus pick, since her appeals-court confirmation vote in 1998 was 67-29 vote.

Previewing the right’s planned reaction, Wendy E. Long, counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said in a statement: "Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.”

However, the fact that Sotomayor is a Latina could also present a political challenge for Republicans. Senators from the GOP, which has suffered from an internal rift over immigration issues and problem-plagued efforts to reach out to Hispanics, will have to decide how directly and sharply they want to attack a Latina single mother whose confirmation to the court is virtually certain.

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