I was glad to get up this morning and read that the US Senate had confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as a US Supreme Court justice. It’s historic—she’s the first Hispanic and only the third woman in the court’s history. She’s also a perfectly competent jurist who will probably be among the moderates.
Still, three things bother me about this. The first is the blatant racism of the Republicans both in the US Senate and those calling the shots outside Congress. They sometimes tried to hide their racism, but it oozed out anyway.
The second thing that bothered me was that for the first time ever the gun lobby took a stand on a nominee, threatening Senators with retaliation if they dared to defy the gun lobby’s edict. The threat was apparently enough to convince some Republicans to switch from supporting Sotomayor to opposing her. Democrats, of course, were unswayed. Naturally even gun nuts have the right to express their opinion, but using intimidation is not the way to do that.
The thing that bothered me the most, however, is the attacks from Republicans who bizarrely claimed that Sotomayor is a liberal when she's clearly—obviously—a moderate. Here’s why this bothered me: What the hell is wrong with having a liberal on the Court? Basically, the rightwing is saying that having rightwingers on the bench is good and proper, but there can be no liberals. Excuse me? How is that in any way democratic, let alone fair? The majority of the Court is more or less conservative (and four are hard-core rightwing), so why shouldn’t liberals get a Justice, too—especially when the retiring justice is from the more or less liberal group of Justices?
Chances are good that one or more of the remaining liberal justices will retire during President Obama’s first term. If so, you can bet on Republicans trashing the nominee for being a “liberal”, even if they’re not, as if there'd be something sinister or evil about replacing a liberal with a liberal.
That’ll be then. For now, congratulations to Judge Sotomayor—and to the US.