Schumer Plays Up Sotomayor's Authoritarianism

In his introductory comments at Monday's hearing on prospective Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotamayor, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) boasted that over the course of her career, the nominee "ruled for the government in 83% of immigration cases, in 92% of criminal cases." This apparently is a plus.

The anti-drug prohibition blog Aid and Comfort points out that in addition to Vice President Biden's promise to several law enforcement organizations last month that Sotomayor has "got your back," her confirmation has also been endorsed by law enforcement groups like the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Sheriff's Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of District Attorneys.

Yesterday's hearing didn't delve too much into criminal justice issues, but where it did, it consisted of Democrats like Schumer going out of their way to tout Sotomayor's pro-state, anti-defense credentials, and Sotomayor applying Obama's "empathy" standard not to the rights of the accused but to victims of crime. This isn't to say that crime victims don't deserve empathy, of course. But the Supreme Court rarely has occasion to rule on issues related to the victims of crime. It rules on how far to extend the constitutional protections of those accused of committing crimes. Putting the focus on victims instead of the civil rights of criminal defendants is a popular tactic among the law and order crowd. Which is to say that Sotomayor knew exactly what message she was sending.

Mother Jones correspondent Stephanie Mencimer's summary of the hearings thus far is a bit over the top, but not by much:

Republicans would accuse Sotomayor of being a soft-hearted minority, and she would parry with examples from her 17-year judicial career where she'd been as mean or meaner than any white guy on the bench.

I think it's safe to say that on criminal justice issues, Sotomayor has given a pretty strong indication that she'll be quite a bit more conservative than the justice she's replacing (though that opinion isn't unanimous). Even if that it isn't the case, she at least realizes that projecting that image will only benefit her in the confirmation process.

All of which says quite a bit about the lack of real national debate on criminal justice issues. Given the flaws in the criminal justice system revealed by DNA testing in recent years, it's unfortunate that liberal interest groups have mostly fallen in line, and avoided raising questions about Sotomayor's record on these issues. The Democrats' party leadership and judiciary committee members aren't interested in defending the idea of protecting the rights of the accused so much as showing that their president's nominee (a former prosecutor, we've been repeatedly reminded) will be just as "tough on crime" as your average Republican appointee.

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  • ||

    Open authoritarianism. Always a good sign.

  • ||

    Fuck Chuck. He's the Worst.

  • Mike M.||

    "...the nominee "ruled for the government in 83% of immigration cases, in 92% of criminal cases."

    What's odd is that you wouldn't think that this would fall within a liberal's definition of "empathy".

  • ||

    Empathy is for those manipulating the masses, not the masses themselves.

  • ||

    Oops, that came out wrong. Let's try again: Empathy for those manipulating the masses, not the masses themselves.

  • Zeb||

    Ugh. I hate "victim's rights". The parties to a criminal prosecution are the accused and the state. The victims of crime often deserve sympathy (or empathy), but that doesn't mean that their feelings deserve any consideration in how to punish. The only person whose legal rights are relevant in a criminal trial is the accused.

  • P Dier||

    who could be more rational about punishment than the victims themselves?

  • God Fearing Atheist||

    Is there any real chance that anything she says could actually get her dropped? I mean in this reality.

  • Bill||

    Gad I can't stand Chuck "The Schmuck" Schumer. He makes me want to gag and puke.

  • Zeb||

    "who could be more rational about punishment than the victims themselves?"

    When victims determine the punishment it is called revenge. It seems to me that revenge is not generally a good thing and avoiding the necessity for revenge is the main purpose of a criminal justice system.

  • ||

    It's nice to see one other person on the web point this out. As a defense attorney myself, I'm horrified by Sotomayor's nomination.

    I cannot find ONE appellate case where she dissented from the 2-judge majority and sided with the criminal defendant. In the small percentage of cases where she sided with the defendant it was a simple unanimous per curiam opinion where the government basically conceded the error occurred and that a remand to the lower court was proper. She has NEVER gone out of her way to disagree with her peers and rule against the state. NEVER.

    And she's Catholic with no stated opinion on abortion. Which means she's more likely than not pro-life (though she can clear that up very easily, saying "Roe v. Wade is settled law" does nothing of the kind - that's a normative statement of the law that Scalia, Alito, Roberts and Thomas would all agree with).

    Obama's nomination of Sotomayor is a travesty. After Roberts and Alito, the liberal appoints a moderate conservative pro-prosecution, likely pro-life judge to the court. Unbelievable.

    Obama, I want my vote back. If we were going to have 4 more years of bush policy, I'd rather have McCain/Palin doing it so I wouldn't feel as betrayed.

  • SIV||

    Obama, I want my vote back. If we were going to have 4 more years of bush policy, I'd rather have McCain/Palin doing it so I wouldn't feel as betrayed.

    Sucker!

    Ha Ha!

  • ||

    Sotomayor applying Obama's "empathy" standard not to the rights of the accused but to victims of crime.

    I can't remember who I was arguing with about judicial empathy on this blog.

    My take was that empathy is directionless, and can be exercised to benefit either side of a dispute, and thus was nothing but a cover for allowing a judge acting extrajudicially to do what they wanted to do anyway.

    I stand affirmed in my view.

  • ¢||

    The "but surely anyone else Obama nominated would be worse" comments have really fallen off this week.

  • ||

    I can't remember who I was arguing with about judicial empathy on this blog.

    It was joe. Good stuff.

  • jtuf||

    Given the flaws in the criminal justice system revealed by DNA testing in recent years, it's unfortunate that liberal interest groups have mostly fallen in line, and avoided raising questions about Sotomayor's record on these issues.

    I guess they don't mind police beatings as long as they can get patched up at the hospital for free.

  • alan||

    bruce,

    I appreciate your honesty, and if you are new to the site, you'll find that this group of libertarians is strongly libertarian. However, I doubt if Sotamayor will work towards overturning Rowe v. Wade. She is a careerist at heart, as your post shows, her entire span of office, has been devoted to the most cautious, go along get along approach.

  • alan||

    this group of libertarians is strongly libertarian.

    Make that:

    this group of libertarians is strongly civil libertarian, thus, pro defendant.

  • ||

    this group of libertarians is strongly civil libertarian, thus, pro defendant.

    Unless that defendant happens to be a badge-wearing dog killer.

  • alan||

    Unless that defendant happens to be a badge-wearing dog killer.

    Even a member of the doughnut patrol deserves his day in court, so long as my rat terrier is the presiding judge.

  • ||

    alan: I've been reading and posting here for years (though at very intermittent times with respect to posting... maybe like once a week or so).

    You may be right about Sotomayor re: abortion, I hope you are, but as I'm very pro-choice I don't trust her. She stressed that Obama never asked her about her stance on abortion (not sure if I believe that but I'll take her at her word) and she never told him that she was pro-choice. As she is Catholic, I presume she is pro-life. NOt saying all catholics are anti-abortion, but MOST (more than half) are. So, it's a rebuttable presumption for me.

    I think she'll be more conservative than the justice she's replacing. And that pisses me off. The only way to balance extremism is with counter-extremism. After ROberts and Alito, I want the most liberal judge in the country to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Not because I support those politics necessarily, but only to balance the court.

    Why can't we get another Brennan?

  • ||

    With Chuck Schumer support of Sotomayor's is there any question as to her support of the constitution is answered with Schumer support.

    GOD BLESS AMERICA

  • ||

    She is a careerist at heart, as your post shows, her entire span of office, has been devoted to the most cautious, go along get along approach.

    Now that she is at the top of her field and appointed for life, being a careerist means precisely dick, now. She can rule however the hell she wants.

  • ||

    With Chuck Schumer support of Sotomayor's is there any question as to her support of the constitution is answered with Schumer support.

    In other words she will misinterpret the 2nd Amendment because she's a stupid gungrabber.

  • P Dier||

    When victims determine the punishment it is called revenge. It seems to me that revenge is not generally a good thing and avoiding the necessity for revenge is the main purpose of a criminal justice system.

    agreed.. i was being sarcastic

  • ||

    nice post..
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    Britney
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