Posted by: Puma1 | May 26, 2009

Note to GOP: Go After Sotomayor’s Lack of Empathy for Firefighter Frank Ricci

The Sotomayor pick is solid if not spectacular. She has an amazing story, and (notwithstanding the stupid, silly, insulting rumors to the contrary) she is a smart, sound and experienced jurist.

I’ve never been enamored of the bloated, meaningless SCOTUS confirmation spectacle: one of the consequences of losing a Presidential election is that the other side gets to put people on the Supreme Court. Voters know this; the Republican base who decided to sit this one out and let Obama snatch victory from McCain knew it. The GOP has no choice but to take their Supreme Court lumps and move on.

Yet if they insist on gearing up to bloody-up Sotomayor, they are already driving down the wrong boulevards and avenues. In 2005, Judge Sotomayor made an unfortunate comment that we’ll all be sick of by the end of the summer, in which she signaled support for judicial activism:

Conservatives have indicated they will pounce on this one-off and erroneous assertion that the courts are where “policy is made” to paint Sotomayor as a brusque unlikable liberal activist judge who will violate the Constitution and abuse its enshrined separation of powers.

The problem with this strategy is twofold: one, nothing in Satomayor’s actual record as a judge indicates she is in actuality a scary far-left activist judge. On top of that, she interviews well and comes across as exceedingly non-Cheney — likable, sunny, and charismatic — as well as reasonable, confident, and intelligent. Thus, all the overheated rhetoric intended to frighten the public will fall flat as voters get to see, hear, and eventually like her.

Two, and more problematic for the conservatives who seek to stop Satomayor: the public really honestly doesn’t care about judicial activism. The term “judicial activism” is — to your everday, average normal guy — baroque and non-threatening. The GOP has thus far failed miserably at selling the public on the evils of judicial activism and does not have the time — or the political capital — to properly educate the public . Their cries of “She is a liberal activist judge” will be met with a yawned “And?” by everyone else.

The public has bigger fish to fry than circumnavigating the legalese of activist judges.

Howeveer, there lurks one potentially explosive vulnerability in Sotomayor’s past and that is her jurispredence in respect to the curious case of New England firefighter Frank Ricci:

Now that Obama has picked Sonia Sotomayor to take the seat of the retiring David Souter, the summer promises to be really interesting. By the last week of June the Supreme Court will have decided Ricci v. DeStefano. This is the case alleging racial discrimination in employment on the part of New Haven, Conn. Firefighters seeking promotion took a written and oral exam the results of which the city said would be dispositive in deciding which applicants would win a limited number of promotions. But the city decided to disregard the test results because they yielded too many qualified applicants of one race (white) and not enough of another (black). Whereupon the white firefighters, joined by one Hispanic firefighter who also did well on the test, sued the city. But their challenge was dismissed by a district judge. And then the dismissal was upheld by the reviewing court, which is the one on which Sotomayor sits, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The obvious questions for Obama and his Justice-to-be: what do they feel (since we have to put it this way) about Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff in the New Haven case, who studied as many as 13 hours a day in preparing himself for the exam? Who spent more than $1000 on books the city designated as homework for the exam? And who, because he is dyslexic and learns better by listening, paid to have them read them onto audiotapes? Ricci got one of the highest scores and would have been promoted but for the city’s decision to throw them out because of their inconvenient results. What do Obama and Sotomayor feel about this very diligent, disadvantage-overcoming, working-class guy?

via The Weekly Standard.

Working class white guy, they mean.

If the Republicans know what’s good for them, they’ll make sure that Frank Ricci is, by the start of next week, at least as infamous as Sonia Sotomayor is about to be.



  1. As a Hispanic, I’m offended that Barack Obama has chosen this stereotypical Hispanic for the court. There are plenty of respectable Hispanics who would make spectatular judges. But Sotomayor is exactly the image what us Hispanics have been typecast as. Remember “My name Jose Jimenez”? This woman has more in common with a maid at the Holiday Inn than a Supreme Court justice.

  2. She, is the “Epitomy” of what Barrack Obama is
    all about… How he truely thinks and feels! All of
    you “OBAMA” kool-aid drinkers, out there who
    voted for this man get what you truely deserve
    and that is nothing more then what you get now
    which is nothing unless you work for it.

  3. Sotomayor appears to be an unabashed liberal activist willing to use her personal experience as justification for taking whatever action she deems appropriate to ‘right the wrongs’ of America’s past.

    Working where policy is made implies that she fully understands and accepts that this is the role she relishes.

    The DC press corps and political ruling classes were agog yesterday and truly emitted some strange statements. ( for a top ten list of these, you can hit: )

    The confirmation process should be very interesting as this nominee is trying to cloak her activist history in her personal story.

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