I get the impression that Judge Sotomayor will not be a notable member of the court. She has to this point shown no commitment to an agenda that should scare conservatives or hearten liberals nor any evidence of the firepower necessary to take on the guys to her right.
Judge Sotomayor appears to be bright and hard-working, but not brilliant. I don’t say this after reading all of her work, but rather from the surrounding silence about her philosophical musings. She is known for her ill-considered “wise Latina” trope – a “rhetorical flourish” she calls it – which, however revealing, would not be as important as her more carefully expressed views on personal history and judicial action if there were any such more carefully expressed views.
I admit that this is conjecture. Her answers during the Judiciary Committee’s desultory charade have been typically and acceptably evasive given the nature of the questions themselves. But how hard would it have been for someone to ask the judge what she thought of the several opinions in Griswold v. Connecticut? Senators Kohl and Cardin did ask about privacy, including the holding in Griswold, and Judge Sotomayor clearly knows what the relevant cases are and what they hold. But there was no discussion of the subtly different legal reasoning in the several opinions in Griswold, which is an excellent way for a lawyer to show some real jurisprudential chops. I suspect there is no interest there because there is no there there.
I can understand why the Democrats don’t ask. But why not the Republicans? Granted, neither Orrin Hatch nor Arlen Spector has shown the ability to swim at the appropriate depth, but neither of them is above faking it. And I still believe that if Judge Sotomayor had this particular piece in her repertoire, she would have been asked to play it.
I guess we’ll see…