Sotomayor On Trial

As the Senate starts to get ready for confirmation hearings on President Obama's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, the best part is how much material is already available for review and being used by both sides.

There's the now infamous remarks that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made - and that were caught on videotape - where she talks about "making policy" on the appellate court level.

"All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is, Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't make law."

Sotomayor laughs at the end of that.  To supporters, it's a knowing laugh which is not sinister.  To her critics, it's rampant evidence of the worst kind of judicial activism.

She is certain to be asked about that at her confirmation hearings.  One would assume that she will have a stock answer ready to go, one which she will repeat and repeat.

Another issue that seems likely to be brought up is a statement she made in a speech back in 2001 about how the experiences of judges should play in their work.

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sotomayor said.

Critics seized on this even before Sotomayor was nominated, charging that if a white man made the above statement about Hispanics, that person would be drummed out immediately and ripped as racist.

For a second straight day, that was a subject at the White House briefing, as reporters pestered spokesman Robert Gibbs over and over on the quote.

Look for that statement to get a full review in confirmation hearings - and even in one-on-one meetings with Senators.

Those two items have already sparked a lot of comments on the internet, so you can read an awful lot more about them with a couple clicks of the mouse.

Along with the upcoming decision on the New Haven, Connecticut firefighter promotion case that went before Sotomayor, I would expect - right now at least - that those three items will form the basis for criticism of her nomination.

Nothing is a given in these nomination fights. We'll see whether any of these statements, along with the firefighter case - and other opinions out there - cause any Democrats to get wobbly in the knees.

And nothing will matter if Sotomayor mishandles questions in her confirmation hearings.

That is unlikely. But you never know. Robert Bork didn't listen to his handlers.

They play these games for a reason.

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