[Latest Sotomayor Update: The Audacity of Hypocrisy: Mike Huckabee Says Appointing "Maria" Sotomayor Will Lead to an "Extreme Court"]
Well, it looks like the smackdown against the smackdown worked. Obama has shown courage in the face of conservative distortion and apparently chosen Sonia Sotomayor for the bench.
Anti-Conservative Talking Points
Conservatives and so-called liberals launched an effort to discredit Sotomayor as soon as Justice Souter announced his retirement. Nothing in Sotomayor's background substantiate the claims that her detractors have made.Here are some great talking points to deal with the inevitable conservative meltdown over the prospect of Sotomayor's appointment.
Jeffrey Rosen started this narrative with his unbalanced analysis of Sotomayor. Several sources have persuasively rebutted his flawed analysis.
Conservatives are doing their best to depict Sotomayor as an unthinking leftist. But the SCOTUS blog has published a 4-part series analyzing her body of cases as an appellate judge. Her record speaks more persuasively than the conservative rhetoric.
Ideology and Judging Are Mutually Inconsistent
Both parties advance this bizarre rhetoric -- but only when the opposite party has the power to make the appointment. Decrying "ideology," liberals went after Bush's nominees, and conservatives are poised to battle Obama's choices. Both sides, however, are absolutely deceitful on this issue. Ideology is perfectly consistent with judging, and politicians throughout American history have recognized this fact. Ideology, however, does not necessarily prevent an individual judge from engaging in debate, adhering to precedent, or making reasonable conclusions about the law.
Driven by Identity
Several commentators have extracted sentences out of a speech Sotomayor delivered at the University of California at Berkeley in order to portray her as a judge governed by identity politics, rather than logic. That argument, however, severely distorts the substance of her speech, and it also ignores the extent to which identity actually matters within law. Justices from O'Connor to Scalia have made the same argument.
Lacks Judicial Temperament
Rosen, selectively drawing from reviews in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, depicted Sotomayor as a domineering fireball. But a comparison of the Almanac's review of Scalia reveals that the two judges both seem to have a tough and highly engaging style at oral arguments. Nevertheless, the book portrays this as a negative quality in Sotomayor and a positive one in Scalia. The disparity corresponds with negative stereotypes about strong and intelligent women.
Given the many ways in which opponents of Sotomayor have attempted to prevent her nomination, I am surprised that Obama followed through with it. In fact, I thought Elena Kagan would get the nod. But a lot of advocacy and responses to the distorted analysis seem to have worked. Also, Obama skillfully waited until debate had taken place before moving on her candidacy. Kudos!
Update: The White House has more extensive (and definitely better) talking points: White House Armed With Talking Points For Sotomayor Fight--Evoke Her "Empathy"