Somebody Told Me So
With the upcoming Supreme Court nomination fight looming, expect to see lots and lots of fact-free assertions masquerading as information. Stuart Taylor gives it a start by deciding that Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge on the 2nd Circuit, would be "an exceptionally controversial" selection. Based on... I really don't know, except that conservative activists told Taylor to dismiss the evidence and see the real liberal behind all her moderate opinions.
There is a widespread perception on the right and among some moderates who have seen her close up that she is far more liberal than anyone now on the Court. (Some conservatives claim she masquerades as a moderate because she is running for the Court.)
Shorter Taylor: I see secret liberal people. They're everywhere!
But Taylor's meaningless claim of a hidden agenda underneath Sotomayor's decisions pales in comparison to Jeffrey Rosen from eventheliberalNewRepublic's claim that Sotomayor is stupid - at least that's what "some people say."
The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. "She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue." [...] Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. It's customary, for example, for Second Circuit judges to circulate their draft opinions to invite a robust exchange of views. Sotomayor, several former clerks complained, rankled her colleagues by sending long memos that didn't distinguish between substantive and trivial points, with petty editing suggestions--fixing typos and the like--rather than focusing on the core analytical issues.
I find it hard to believe that a woman who grew up in the South Bronx and made it to Princeton, Yale Law School and the federal bench is an unredeemable idiot. Not to mention the fact that you can't find a single solitary named source in this entire article, and that Rosen ends with:
I haven't read enough of Sotomayor's opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor's detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.
It would be quite a burden to ask Rosen to, you know, read up on the subject he profiles. But then, he's only a journalist attempting to inform his readers, so I shouldn't be asking too much of him attempting to inform himself.
I'm curious about this multi-pronged attack on Sotomayor, based mostly on whisper campaigns and conjecture. I can only conclude that, with these enemies, she must have a lot going for her.