This column originally appeared on The American Thinker on July 9, 2009.
Democrats are playing the race card with Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in more ways than one.
The White House and Senate Democrats want a vote on Sotomayor’s nomination before the August congressional recess. If Senate Republicans surrender to the Democrats’ race pace card, it means a fast, uninformed vote on a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
Americans aren’t stimulated by uninformed voting in Congress. Republicans should also know by now that Americans consider Supreme Court appointments supremely important. It explains why Samuel Alito is on the Supreme Court and Harriet Miers isn’t.
Democrats are hustling the vote because they don’t want to give Americans time to be fully informed about Sotomayor. What we already know calls for the Senate to proceed with caution, not full-speed ahead. A Supreme Court nomination shouldn’t be a summary, rubber-stamp decision. Sotomayor’s record including 3,600 opinions, hundreds of speeches and other writings needs serious and thorough review.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement July 7, questioning Sotomayor’s ability and impartiality based on what is already known:
The Ricci decision is the tenth of Judge Sotomayor’s cases that the Supreme Court has reviewed. And it is the ninth time out of ten that the Supreme Court has disagreed with her. In fact, she is 0 for 3 during the Supreme Court’s last Term. …
“In the Ricci case – her third and final reversal of this term – Judge Sotomayor was so wrong in interpreting the law that all nine justices, of all ideological stripes, disagreed with her. As we consider her nomination to the Supreme Court, my colleagues should ask themselves this important question: is she allowing her personal or political agenda to cloud her judgment and favor one group of individuals over another, irrespective of what the law says?”
Examining Sotomayor’s respect for the Constitution and rule of law, her judicial philosophy, temperament, impartiality and judgment needs considerably more time than her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Fulfilling their constitutional oath requires a meaningful debate by the entire Senate and time for input from their employers, the American people.
Democrats are also playing their race bait card to intimidate Senate Republicans who “fear” losing the Hispanic vote if they oppose Sotomayor. It’s a foolish fear because they’re not about to swing the Hispanic vote even if they support Sotomayor.
Democrats get what Republicans can’t seem to grasp. Hispanics aren’t one or two issue voters.
It’s why Democrats didn’t fret about losing the Hispanic vote when they waged war against Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2001 by President George W. Bush. “It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench,” as Byron York of the National Examiner reminds us.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) thought his bi-partisan push for immigration reform with the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill would bring him a large percentage of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 presidential election, but it wasn’t even close-67 percent vs. 31 percent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Despite his vigorous opposition to the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was re-elected in 2008 in a state with a 36 percent Hispanic population. Cornyn defeated his Hispanic opponent, Rick Noriega, by a margin of 55-41 percent, despite being “hammered” by Noriega on immigration reform, according to the Powerline blog:
Republicans should be exploiting Red State Democrats’ real and rational fear of losing votes if they support Sotomayor. It’s not fear about the Hispanic vote because their states have very small Hispanic populations:
Alaska: 39, 000, 6 percent
Arkansas: 146,000, 5 percent
Kansas: 247,000, 9 percent
Louisiana: 135,000, 3 percent
Missouri: 170,000, 3 percent
Montana: 24,000, 2 percent
Nebraska: 134,000, 8 percent
North Dakota: 9,000, 1 percent
South Dakota: 23,000, 3 percent
West Virginia: 18,000, 1 percent
The Senate Democrats from Red States will need to secure the much larger blocks of Second Amendment voters to win re-election. Sotomayor has joined two 2nd Circuit opinions, denying that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right and that it applies to the states. That might play well in Peoria but not with gun rights voters in these states.
That fear was buttressed July 7, by a letter from Second Amendment leaders to senators urging a “No” vote on Sotomayor. The letter, including contact information for signers, is available on the Committee for Justice Web site:
The individual signers include 14 members of the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors and Executive Council, including two past presidents of the NRA. Another five signers head the NRA state affiliate in their respective states – Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The signers also include the heads of other leading national Second Amendment organizations, including the Second Amendment Foundation, the Gun Owners’ Action League, and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Notably, many of the signers represent red and purple states with one or more Democratic senators.
Sonia Sotomayor’s support for racial preferences and opposition to property rights and the right of individuals to keep and bear arms are prime examples of why Supreme Court nominees, regardless of race, are supposed to be “shepherded” through the Senate, not hustled.
If Republicans fail to address “complex questions that warranted thorough treatment” of Sotomayor’s record, they will open themselves to the same criticism they’ve made of her handling of the Ricci case. Did race and a political agenda “cloud their judgment”?