The big news of the day is that President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the third woman to serve on the high court and the first Hispanic justice of either gender.
Sotomayor reportedly sealed the deal during her interview with the president last Thursday.
Senate Republicans will try to drag out the confirmation process, but there will be no long-term vacancy on the high court. Justice David Souter has made clear that he will retire once his replacement is confirmed.
I don't know a lot about Sotomayor, but I look forward to learning more. She has the qualities I wanted to see in a Supreme Court nominee, even if she is not as progressive as I would like. Tom Goldstein of the SCOTUS blog previewed arguments for and against her nomination. Excerpt:
Objectively, her qualifications are overwhelming from the perspective of ordinary Americans. She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience.
On the other hand, this criminal defense attorney who has argued cases before her court isn't too impressed.
On principle, I am glad that a hit piece on Sotomayor filled with anonymous quotes did not derail her nomination. More on that hit piece is here.
Before I open the floor for comments, here's some Supreme Court-related humor from The Onion.
What do you think of Obama's choice?
UPDATE: Greg Sargent points out that "Seven Republicans currently in the Senate voted for the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor in 1998 as U.S. Circuit Court judge[...]." That's not counting Arlen Specter, who also voted to confirm her in 1998 but is no longer a Republican.
SECOND UPDATE: Sports fans may remember that as a U.S. district court judge, Sotomayor ended the baseball strike in 1995.
THIRD UPDATE: Senator Chuck Grassley released this statement:
"A lifetime appointment requires a thorough vetting, and I expect Judge Sotomayor to receive fair and deliberative consideration. The United States Senate has a responsibility to carefully review nominees to the Supreme Court. The Judiciary Committee should take time to ensure that the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences. We need to ask tough questions to learn how this individual views the role of a Supreme Court justice. The last 25 years of Senate review of nominees has been entirely different than the first 200 years, and today the Senate can't just be a rubber stamp for President Obama's nominees."
Grassley is incorrect to imply that the Senate has been a rubber stamp of Supreme Court nominees for most of this country's history. During the 19th century, the Senate rejected approximately one fourth of the presidential nominees for this office.
Here's a list of failed nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.