This blog has been very sympathetic to the GOP in order to foster open debate. I have written numerous articles criticizing liberals -- even getting cited several times by Glenn Reynolds and many other conservatives. I have defended Michael Steele, George Bush, Sarah Palin, and even Rush Limbaugh from unfair criticism. But I have been unable to validate the "other side" in my response to Republican criticism of Sotomayor. Most of the popular conservative critiques of Sotomayor are inaccurate, deceitful, hypocritical, nasty, and politically suicidal.
As someone who desires a multi-party system, the GOP's recent implosion is disheartening. The country almost has just 1.5 parties at the moment. Unless the Republican Party embraces moderate positions in the shortrun, it will continue to live on the fringe of national politics. Parties have had to adjust historically. The Republican Party was the original home of the "Massachusetts Liberal." The Democrats were the slaveowning confederates. Clearly, historical developments caused the parties to shift in order to survive.
Outside of self-interest, the public deserves reasoned debate about judicial appointments. Personally, I believe that the Framers placed the appointments process in the political branches because they knew that ideology is relevant to judging. Even if they did so for other reasons, by delegating authority over judicial appointments to the President and the Senate, the Framers have created an inherently political process. Yet, both sides of the aisle are feigning a meltdown over the prospect of a nominee having a particular ideological bent. The deceitful shenanigans regarding ideology, not to mention "empathy," are pure distractions.
Most educated individuals have formed some type of awareness and opinion (even if tentative) of the most compelling issues that our nation and the world community face. These are the type of issues the Supreme Court analyzes. The fact that judges have a particular ideological background does not mean that they are closed to debate or to precedent. Instead, it simply means that when they review and apply the law in each case, they will bring their own background to the table, and this will inform passionate debate and possibly outcomes in many instances. If you do not think Scalia or Thomas (or Ginsburg and Stevens) operate this way, you are delusional, deceitful or clueless about the Supreme Court.
Here's a clip from Noonan's essay:
I concur. Nevertheless, if The Onion is correct, filling the airwaves with "thoughtful exchanges" will lead to a major panic and backlash: Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!
Barring extraordinary revelations, Judge Sotomayor is going to be confirmed. She's going to win. She does not appear to be as liberal or left-wing as others who could have been picked. She seems reminiscent of the justice she will replace, David Souter. She will likely come across in hearings as smart, spirited, a middle-aged woman who's lived a life of grit, determination and American-dream proving.
Republicans can be liberated by the fact that they're outnumbered and likely about to lose. They can step back, breathe in, and use the Sotomayor confirmation hearings to perform a public service: Find out what the future justice thinks and why she thinks it, explain what they think and why they think it, look at the two different philosophies, if that's what they are. Don't make it sparring, make it thinking.
Don't grill and grandstand, summon and inform. Show the respect that expresses equality and the equality that is an expression of respect. Ask and listen, get the logic, explain where you think it wrong. Fill the airwaves with thoughtful exchanges
Update: RNC Chair Michael Steele and Republican Senator John Cornyn(of Texas with many Latino voters) have come out condemning conservative attacks on Sotomayor.