May. 29th, 2009

sisyphusshrugged: (Default)

Ask your local etiquette expert what this gesture signifies

The Times has taken up the burning question of Sonia Sotomayor's temperament
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court choice, has a blunt and even testy side, and it was on display in December during an argument before the federal appeals court in New York. The case concerned a Canadian man who said American officials had sent him to Syria to be tortured, and Judge Sotomayor peppered a government lawyer with skeptical questions.

“So the minute the executive raises the specter of foreign policy, national security,” Judge Sotomayor asked the lawyer, Jonathan F. Cohn, “it is the government’s position that that is a license to torture anyone?”

Mr. Cohn managed to get out two and a half words: “No, your hon—— .”

Judge Sotomayor cut him off, then hit him with two more questions and a flat declaration of what she said was his position. The lawyer managed to say she was wrong, but could not clarify the point until the chief judge, Dennis G. Jacobs, stepped in, asking, “Why don’t we just get the position?”

To supporters, Judge Sotomayor’s vigorous questioning of the Bush administration’s position in the case of the Canadian, Maher Arar, showcases some of her strengths. She is known as a formidably intelligent judge with a prodigious memory who meticulously prepares for oral arguments and is not shy about grilling the lawyers who appear before her to ensure that she fully understands their arguments.

But to detractors, Judge Sotomayor’s sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers have described her as “difficult” and “nasty” — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen.

and right down as far below the fold as they could get and still be in the same article, they give you Mr. Cohn's reaction (which, unlike most of the negative responses in the article, was not anonymous)
Mr. Cohn, the government lawyer in the Arar case, said he had not been taken aback by Judge Sotomayor’s volley of inquiries. “I thought her questions and demeanor were reasonable and fine,” he said.
McClatchy, who I usually like, was equally silly with the lede on their article

Judge Sonia Sotomayor can be blunt, aggressive and impatient. So get ready for another public debate, and probably some insinuations, about her judicial temperament.

Twenty-two years ago, Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination foundered in part over similar questions.
Um, yeah. That's what I remember Bork foundering over. The way he was bitchy to Archibald Cox when he had his period.

From what I can see, Judge Sotomayor (although I'm an unabashed fan of her life story) is not a clear win for the DFHs of the left. Considering that she got her current job from a Republican president, there's a case to be made that she's not a clear loss for the right.

In either case, it would be far easier to weigh the merits of the claims on both sides if people stopped talking nonsense.

I vote reporters first.


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