Friday, May 29, 2009

You can have a great life story and still be a bad person

From the Washington Times:

Lawyers who have argued cases before Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor call her "nasty," "angry" and a "terror on the bench," according to the current Almanac of the Federal Judiciary -- a kind of Zagat's guide to federal judges.

The withering evaluation of Judge Sotomayor's temperament stands in stark contrast to reviews of her peers on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Of the 21 judges evaluated, the same lawyers gave 18 positive to glowing reviews and two judges received mixed reviews. Judge Sotomayor was the only one to receive decidedly negative comments.

Judge Sotomayor's demeanor on the bench will be one of the issues the Senate Judiciary Committee tackles when she appears for her confirmation hearing. A lack of a good temperament has been used as a line of attack against nominees in the past - most notably conservative Judge Robert H. Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated.

I would much rather a radical left-wing judge be a raging asshole who will alienate her colleagues on the Court than have her be a friendly, reasoned and persuasive person.

Right now the court has four reliable liberal activists, four reliable conservative originalists and one swing vote (Kennedy) who has recently made a sharp turn to the right.

Kennedy's rightward turn is tied to the retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Apparently Kennedy and Rehnquist deeply disliked each other and this personal feud led Kennedy (who is far from the sharpest knife in the High Court's drawer) to reflexively align himself against the conservative Rehnquist.

With Mr. Rehnquist no longer on the court Mr. Kennedy has returned to the center-right position which apparently is his natural judicial philosophy.

Anthony Kennedy is the sort of person that Sotomayor naturally hates. He is more or less conservative and not terribly bright. If Sotomayor antagonizes him it could very well drive him into alignment with Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

If this happens the tone of the Court could move from generally conservative to hard-core conservative with little Barry completely unable to do anything about it (other than assassinate Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy or Thomas - which he might well be capable of, he is from Chicago after all).

It would be a rich irony if Obama's first Supreme Court pick were to have the exact opposite effect than what he and his supporters were hoping for.