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Jul. 15 2009 - 5:19 pm | 9 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Sotomayor won’t be judged by a jury of her peers

Judge Sonia Sotomayor answers a question during the third day of her confirmation hearing (Win McNamee/Getty)

Judge Sonia Sotomayor answers a question during the third day of her confirmation hearing (Win McNamee/Getty)

As I wrote earlier this week, there’s a huge glut among the minority witnesses of anti-affirmative action experts testifying at Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation.  But in further comparing the witness lists between Sotomayor and the two most recent nominees, Justices Sam Alito and John Roberts, there’s another striking difference: the number of non-lawyer witnesses.

At Roberts’s hearing four years ago, just 6 out of the 33 witnesses were non-lawyers, and at Alito’s hearing, only one witness was neither a lawyer or a congressperson. Not only was Alito’s hearing heavy on legal credentials, it had high-powered ones: 7 past and present judges and a former solicitor general testified at Alito’s hearing.

In comparison, there is just one past judge, and no solicitors general or attorneys general on Sotomayor’s witness list  – and a whopping 10 witnesses who don’t have a law degree at all.

The disparity illustrates where the qualms have been with Sotomayor’s nomination, or rather, where the qualms aren’t: her legal qualifications and fitness as a judge. Tomorrow and Friday, baseball pitchers, firefighters and mayors will all testify for and against Sotomayor, but what authority their words will carry is anyone’s guess.


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    Kudos to Sotomayor. But remember, Kate, in your euphoria over her selection, that the first president to nominate a person of Latin descent for the Supreme Court was President George W. Bush. He nominated Miguel Estrada, an extremely well-qualified candidate who was met with blistering ad hominem attacks from the virulently anti-Latino democrats in the Senate. Democrats love liberal Latinas, but not any other kind.

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    About Me

    While working at Talking Points Memo Muckraker during the 2008 Election, I covered the Justice Department politicization, voting rights law and the insanity of Alaska politics. I loved the beat which was somewhere between the wonky side of politics and the law. The realization was enough to send me off to law school in D.C. -- which seems to be a perfect combination of both.

    Though I've covered everything from birth control to blenders in my few years in journalism, this blog will be a compilation of stories related to the Supreme Court, federal courts, and the law generally. With an occasional story about Sarah Palin or Ted Stevens thrown in for good measure.

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