Tuesday was a haymaker of a news day! First, President Obama announces a Latina woman as his first Supreme Court nominee, and a few hours later, the California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals judge in New York, was introduced early Tuesday morning, with an abundance of accolades by President Obama. From humble beginnings in a Bronx public housing project to Princeton and Yale Law, she caps an impressive career with a nomination to the highest court in the land. Heady stuff.
When introducing Sotomayor, Obama stated, "Experience being tested by obstacles and barriers, by hardship and misfortune; experience insisting, persisting, and ultimately overcoming those barriers . . . is a necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court,"
If confirmed she would be the first Latino to sit on the Supreme Court, and that creates a dilemma for the GOP. Republicans desperately want to oppose Sotomayor simply because she is an Obama pick, but they need to court the Latina vote, much of which they lost in the last election, and it would certainly be hazardous to appear racist.
In addition, she was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H.W. Bush and was supported by Republicans.
Looking at her more notable cases, Sotomayor appears to be more moderate than liberal, but that hasn’t stopped the right-wingers from calling her a “liberal activist”, a “bigot” a “ reverse racist” (?) and that she believes in “judicial activism”, all of which have no basis.
All the name-calling is just that and will not carry any weight when her nomination comes up for a vote. As a highly respected federal appeals judge, Esquire Magazine called her a “realist”. They predicted her nomination back in October, 2008 and had this to say about her:
“In her rulings, Sotomayor has often shown suspicion of bloated government and corporate power. She's offered a reinterpretation of copyright law, ruled in favor of public access to private information, and in her most famous decision, sided with labor in the Major League Baseball strike of 1995. More than anything else, she is seen as a realist. With a likely 20 years ahead on the bench, she'll have plenty of time to impart her realist philosophy.”
Sotomayor stands by her record saying on Tuesday, “I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.”
California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8
It was a delicate line the California Supreme Court had to straddle on Tuesday when they upheld Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, but allowed 18,000 couples married before the November election to maintain their marriage status.
In its 6-1 ruling, the court said the November ballot measure that restored a ban on same-sex marriage was a limited constitutional amendment, not a wholesale revision that would have required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be placed before voters. (LA Times)
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Ronald M. George stated that Proposition 8 “merely carves out a narrow and limited exception to the state constitutional protection gays and lesbians now receive.”
Currently, gays and lesbian couples have the right to choose a “life partner” under the state’s domestic partnership law, but cannot enter into marriage.
In addition to banning same-sex marriage, of great concern is the ease with which the California Constitution can be amended. Gay rights advocates and several legal scholars said they were surprised that the court did not attempt to rein in constitutional amendments.
Justice Carlos R. Moreno, the lone dissenting judge, called the ruling “not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.
“The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.” (LA Times)
Who knows, the issue of same-sex marriage may some day come before the first minority justice seated on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cheri Cabot, Politics Correspondent
Cheri’s column, “Personal About Politics,” published every week, will reflect on how the life of a 59 year-old, middle class woman is affected by politics, policy and the current state of the nation - a look at the personal aspects of politics. Her column is part of Gather Essentials.
Cheri is a freelance writer, living in Southern California. She has two grown children, one in Iowa and one a recent graduate of Columbia University, and is the proud grandmother of two. Cheri is also a purveyor of fine coffee, warm chatter and dry wit.
You can find all of Cheri’s columns on Personal About Politics at www.personalpolitcs.gather.com, The Obama Watch at theobamawatch.gather.com or her home page at www.ccabot.gather.com.