Bernie Sanders

Sanders Wants More Supreme Court Justices Like Sotomayor. That's Not a Bad Idea.

The presidential hopeful weighs in on the Supreme Court.


What sort of Supreme Court justices would Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) nominate if he is elected president? Speaking recently to the editorial board of The New York Times, the Democratic hopeful offered a glimpse of his thinking.

"The promises that I've made so far is that I will never appoint anybody who was not 100 percent Roe v. Wade," Sanders said. He added that anyone he picks would have to be "prepared to stand up to the power of corporate interests."

Sanders was otherwise mostly mum on specifics. Would he ever release his own list of Supreme Court candidates, like Donald Trump did in 2016? "It's not a bad idea," Sanders acknowledged. But he's "got to win the nomination first."

Sanders has offered more specifics on other occasions. On Twitter, for example, Sanders once declared that he'd "like more justices like…Sonia Sotomayor."

That's not a bad idea, either. Sotomayor is the rare left-leaning justice who counts both progressives and libertarians among her admirers.

To be clear, Sotomayor is far from an ideal jurist. She's been particularly disappointing on the Fifth Amendment. But her record on the Fourth Amendment is admirable. During her 11 years on the Court, Sotomayor has distinguished herself as both a sharp critic of police and prosecutorial misconduct and a staunch defender of the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Unlike her liberal colleague Justice Stephen Breyer, who routinely votes in deference to law enforcement, Sotomayor is skilled at dissecting the government's sickly rationales for patently unconstitutional police behavior.

Consider the 2015 oral arguments in Rodriguez v. United States. Sotomayor neatly sliced and diced the Justice Department lawyer after he insisted that the police should be granted broad leeway to use drug-sniffing dogs during traffic stops. "We can't keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement," Sotomayor observed. "What you're proposing," she informed the government lawyer, is an approach that's "purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper."

Similarly, in her 2016 dissent in Utah v. Strieff, Sotomayor slashed at her colleagues in the majority for holding that the Constitution did not prohibit law enforcement from using evidence obtained during an illegal traffic stop because the man who was stopped happened to be the subject of an outstanding traffic warrant.

"This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong," Sotomayor seethed in dissent. "If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant." As far as she was concerned, "the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such [police] misconduct."

Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who has said nice things about bread lines and communist dictatorships, has embraced many truly bad ideas over the years. Nominating a few more justices like Sonia Sotomayor is not one of them.

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  1. He added that anyone he picks would have to be “prepared to stand up to the power of corporate interests.”

    It’s not a job of a justice to “stand up to the power of corporate interests”, it’s the job of a justice to interpret, protect and defend the constitution.

    1. Comprehension of college level topics is not Bernie’s strong suit. A deep thinker he is not.

  2. She’s hit and miss, for sure, but she’s also the best liberal Justice in a while.

    1. Kind of like saying swine is the best flu we’ve had recently, but ok.

      1. LOL. Kind of like saying North Dakota is Best Dakota.

    2. LOL. She literally sent a video congratulating Chesa Boudin on his election as San Francisco DA, telling him how much she admires him and comparing her elevation to SCOTUS to his win.

      Chesa, in case you’re not familiar, is the son of two convicted Weathermen terrorists who were jailed for murder. When they went to prison he was then raised by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. He received a Rhodes scholarship and went on to be a personal aide to HUGO FUCKING CHAVEZ until his death, signing all personal correspondence to friends and family during his tenure in Venezuela with “From The Belly of the Revolution, Chesa”.

      He’s won the DA race on a platform of radical social justice, selective enforcement of the law, and Marxism.

      This is who Sotomayor admires. I don’t care if she gives an occasionally good ruling on the fifth amendment. She is poison.

      1. Ugh. Thanks for the news. I wasn’t aware of it.

      2. OK. I mean, she’s still one of the best picks and a surprisingly good bit of fortune for us that someone like her got picked during the Obama administration.

    3. Sotomayor is a bit to the Democrats like Souter was to the Republicans. They didn’t get quite what they expected when the nominee joined the court.

      1. LL, you misspelled “Gorsuch” as “Souter”. Neil’s been waaay too independent and thus we have a “dependable” Kavanaugh to advance the GOP interests.

        1. Mistakes can be made when studying a judges “Judicial philosophy. And that is all they have as a gauge when nominating Supreme Court justices. Seems the Republican have made more mistakes than the Democrats to my memory.

  3. So she distrusts the police almost as much as many libertarians do. But, does that come from an intense regard for personal liberty, or some other motive? Based on her many other opinions, I suspect the latter.

    1. I suspect that any case of the police enforcing the Green New Deal, for instance, would swim right by her.

      1. Yep, as soon as the Marxists start using police powers to enforce wildly anti-liberty redistributive and regulatory actions, we’ll see how quickly she rules it all kosher.

    2. It probably comes from working in a DA’s office and seeing how the sausage is made.

      She’s much better than Kavanaugh on the 4th, judging by his appellate opinions.

  4. The libertarian case for Bernie Sanders is going to be a pretty short article.

    1. Bernie is not my first choice, but I can give it a shot.

      He’s better than Drumpf on immigration.
      He’s better than Drumpf on abortion.
      He’s not a Russian asset.


      1. Of course he’s not a Russian asset! First, he’s a fan of the Soviets, not the Russians. Second, he’s hardly an asset, more of a liability.

      2. every village needs an idiot, and with OBL we have ours…

    2. About 330 words.

      SPOILER: He wasn’t going to drag us into a ground war with Syria like that evil Trump was. This article aged REALLY well. Especially when Reason joined the chorus of media mouthpieces castigating Trump for ”””””abandoning our Kurdish allies in Syria”””””

    3. The give up freedom for the state socialism can somehow appeal to Libertarians? The author is nuts.

  5. So….how would the mechanics actually work here? How do we actually go about adding Justices?

    1. It’s done by an ordinary statute. Congress passes a law increasing the size of the Supreme court, the President signs it, and then nominates candidates for the new openings.

      1. You’re right. There would have to be changes to the judiciary act first.

      2. More justices are the dumbest idea. Just keep appointing them until you get the majority you need. First by one party then the other to what end? 20, 50, several hundred?

    2. The president nominates and the Senate advises and consents.

  6. “‘The promises that I’ve made so far is that I will never appoint anybody who was not 100 percent Roe v. Wade,’ Sanders said.”


    When the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, law professors nationwide unanimously praised its rigorous logical foundation and precise legal reasoning. Since then, it has become not only precedent, but SUPER-PRECEDENT. This is a technical term describing Supreme Court decisions that are so brilliant they must never be revisited. (In contrast to not-super-precedents like, for instance, Heller.)

  7. As I understand her basic philosophy is less based on what the law says, than on what side she feels deserves to be given a win. That she may give decision libertarians may like, it is not based on impartial application of the law.

    1. Therefore, more justices like her are not a thing to be desired if you think equal protection under law is a libertarian value.

      1. if you think equal protection under law is a libertarian value.

        Thankfully enough Reason doesn’t think equal protection under the law is a libertarian value.

    2. That’s been my feeling too. I’m more than happy whenever she decides to support less policing, but I feel this is much less about freedom for everyone, and much more about sticking it to the cops because cops are “racist”. Still though, if I had to take a choice between more justices like her and more like Ginsburg and Breyer, I’ll take the broken clock that’s right half the time instead of none of it.

      I’d prefer someone like Gorsuch though, as long as we’re dreaming

      1. I understand, it is just that the logic behind those “good” decisions will establish precedents that will bite us in the long run because they are not liberty based.

        1. Only if they go by precedents.

  8. Pack the court until you get what you want. Is the electoral college unconstitutional? With the right justices, I am sure it will be.

    1. The electoral college, by definition cannot be unconstitutional.

      1. And leftist jurists say: “Hold my beer.”

        1. There is an old – 1922 – concept called ‘The Living Constitution’ that postulates that, if the framers lived in the now and not in the 18th century, blue would mean brown and up mean down. An argument along these lines you probably have heard is that the second amendment only guarantees the right of the citizens to be drafted and serve in the military. Another is that the guarantee of one man, one vote invalidates the electoral college.
          If we choose to interpret the law according to what someone of higher moral values knows is right instead of what a plain reading might be, then no law written can be trusted to mean anything.

      2. SCOTUS had found capital punishment unconstitutional for a time, despite it being mentioned as a legal punishment in thy he constitution. If you think that Constitutional is whatever a majority of SCOTUS says it is, then all it takes is five justices willing to think outside the box.

  9. She’s not so awful, so long as you don’t want the 1st or 2nd amendments to mean anything, place little value on property rights, and are comfortable with racial quotas being declared constitutionally obligatory.

    But aside from that, and a few other minor rights she’d crush, she does seem to be OK.

    1. She agrees with Koch Inc on open borders, which both Doherty and Gillespie have literally said is the sole raison d’être of libertarianism.

  10. Seriously, that’s your pic for a justice to clone? The wise latina? aka the dim spic? She’s easily the least intelligent of the bunch, and not by a little.

  11. “Sanders Wants More Supreme Court Justices Like Sotomayor. That’s Not a Bad Idea.”

    FFS, no. Just no.

    Reason has now gone full progtard.

    1. There’s no such thing as “full progtard”, every time you think they’ve reached it, some new insanity is found.

      But endorsing Sotomayor as a good Justice is pretty crazy for a nominally libertarian publication.

      1. Touché.

    2. But he included a qualifier. A qualifier!

  12. God, I hope this election is crazy old white man vs. another one.

  13. I get that she occasionally gets things right but only if they mesh with her racial redistributative justice worldview. FUCK NO!

    More SJWs on the high court is exactly what we do not need.

  14. How is she on the Second Amendment? Or is that disfavored right not important enough to take into consideration?

    1. She’s horrific on it.

    2. Or is that disfavored right not important enough to take into consideration?

      Illegal immigration uber alles

  15. More Progressive, Activist Justices Like Sotomayor Is a Very Bad Idea.

  16. You know what’s a really really bad idea? Entertaining the thoughts of what Sander’s wants.

  17. I’m more concerned that he, and most of the other Democratic candidates have come right out and said that a potential justice has to rule a certain way on case/cases to win the job. It’s not exactly presidential to be wanting to remove a president for a quid pro quo and then campaigning to replace him by doing the same.

  18. This is an area where Trump is batting 0.500. Neil Gorsuch is probably the most libertarian-friendly justice in all of our lifetimes (and possibly ever).

    It’s hardly a reason to vote for Sanders, just because he might appoint a justice who is good on 4A. Between him and Trump, I’d much rather take a shot at getting another Gorsuch even if it means you might get a Kavanaugh, than taking a chance that the best you might get is a Sotomayor when there are plenty of Ginsbergs to choose from on the left.

    Of all the complaints to make about Trump, his supreme court picks probably aren’t going to get libertarians too fired up.

    1. Not a libertarian myself, but I give him nothing but praise for Gorsuch. Whether he went along with what people were telling him or whatever, he was an inspired selection.

      1. Somehow previous Republican Presidents managed to do worse than going along with what people were telling them. So I think Trump deserves some credit: He may have delegated candidate selection, but he delegated it to the right people.

  19. Accidentally agreeing with libertarians on occasion while applying oppressive socialist ideology with no regard for the law is not a virtue.

    1. Luckily oppressive socialist ideology is literally the exact same thing as libertarianism, so there’s no real issue.

  20. mmm hmm. Where’s she at on the 2nd amendment?

  21. More Liberal Justices is not only a bad choice, but a terrible one.

  22. Another opinion in Reason that has NO Libertarian concept about what the job of the Supremes actually is.

    Leftist libertarianism is hardly Libertarian at all.

  23. Whatever nice things Sen. Sanders has said, stacking The Court is not one of them.

    “Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who has said nice things about bread lines and communist dictatorships, has embraced many truly bad ideas over the years. Nominating a few more justices like Sonia Sotomayor is not one of them.”

  24. “Reason” should just change its name to “Comrade!” at this point

  25. The wise-ass Latina betrayed her oath and voted against the first amendment in Citizens United. We sure as shit don’t need any more of her on the bench at all, let alone on the supreme court.


  26. Left Libertarians are a disease which will destroy the libertarian movement…I’m sure Ms. Sotamayor will be more than happy to eviserate the Bill of Rights for Identity Politics or Statism..come on Reason..this is getting ridiculous

  27. Here’s a litmus test on sitting justices: How often has she voted with the conservatives against the majority of her liberal fellows?

    Yeah… didn’t think so.

    We’re done here.

    And I’m pretty sure they all fail the other litmus test: Does this jurist follow the law, regardless of whether they agree with the outcome?

    All of the members of the Supreme court seem to think that they are supposed to decide what the proper policy is, then back their way into a decision supporting that policy.

  28. Biden said some good things about the supreme court to the NY Times too. He talked about the 9th Amendment and unenumerated rights. He’s been disappointing on marijuana and video games…. but what he said about prospective justices makes me think that they could be good and a lot better on civil liberties than he is.

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  31. Et tu, Root?

    You’re supposed to have some knowledge of the Supreme Court and its jurisprudence. Yes, Sotomayor made a good dissent to the “ignorance of the law is a good defense for cops” crap decision, and made a few other good decisions, but ignoring the bad decisions is like a criminal boasting of all the people he *didn’t* rape. You’re not supposed to rape anyone at all!

  32. Chances that Comrade Bernie’s SCOTUS pick will somehow actually be as good as the Wise Latina on the 4th (while also sucking on everything else) – slim to none.

    Chance that Trump Round 2 will pick another Gorsuch – better than even, though another Kavanaugh is more likely.

    Advantage – The Donald…

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