Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There Has To Be a Better Way

We are currently enduring the theatre of the Sotamayor confirmation hearing. Senators from both parties make their speeches and appease their political base and rarely ask anything that resembles a thoughtful question to the potential next supreme court justice. In the odd event that a thoughtful question is actually asked this nominee and all in the recent past are forced to do the dance that Chief Justice Roberts perfected - provide no real answers but do so in an intellectual and elegant manner. We are left with a process that has little or no substance and comes down to the politics of vote counting. Democrats 12 - Repbulicans 7. Worse, the minority (republicans in this case) know the nominee will be approved and therefore grandstand even worse.

It is true that elections do have consequences such as being able to select judges including those on the supreme court. But aren't we doing our democracy a great injustice by not having a thoughtful process in selecting these for life judges? I am not a legal scholar but have tried to read a number of reviews about Judge Sotomayor and it appears by all accounts that she is moderate in her decision making and even boring by some accounts in her writing. She made one comment about who she is as a person in the last 20 years that now dominates the republicans questioning. Ironic in that Justice Alito referred to his own heritage as an Italian-American and how it informed his juris prudence but was not questioned about it.

David Brooks' editorial today in the New York Times speaks to the dedication and sacrifice it takes to get to where Judge Sotomayor now sits. Sadly, we cannot honor that hard work and willingness to serve with a more dignified thoughtful process to keep our democracy strong.

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