At TPMDC, Eric Kleefeld posts a statement from U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., saying that he’s concerned Judge Sonia Sotomayor might allow her “personal race, gender, or political preferences” to exert an “undue influence” over her decisions as a Supreme Court justice.
You’re going to hear a lot of this in the days and weeks ahead. Conservative critics seem to be oblivious to the fact that white men have both a race and a gender. I highly recommend Jeffrey Toobin’s recent New Yorker profile of Chief Justice John Roberts, who has emerged as a conservative activist judge whose world view is very much informed by his race and gender.
To listen to conservative critics of “activist” judges, you’d think that appellate judges would always reach the same conclusion as long as they are competent and free of bias. But we all know that’s not the case, and that judges are heavily influenced by their personal beliefs.
Sotomayor, for instance, is already under fire for her role in a New Haven affirmative-action case that has been appealed to the Supreme Court. But as Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree pointed out on CNN last night, “the Supreme Court will probably decide the case 5-4. Now, she’s going to be wrong. Maybe she is. But four justices on this court right now will agree with her.”
In other words, she’s a liberal, and she’s well within the mainstream of liberal jurisprudence.
It was interesting that President Obama announced the Sotomayor pick on the same day the California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved constitutional amendment that outlaws same-sex marriage. The vote was 6-1. Earlier, the court had created a right of gay marriage by a margin of 4-3.
The California rulings show just how important the courts are in American life — and how judges, reading the same laws, come to entirely different conclusions. If that’s activism, then all appellate judges are activists.
Obama won the election, which means that we’re going to get liberal activist judges rather than conservative activist judges. That’s the way things are supposed to work.