The evidence is mounting as to the emptiness of pursuing and promoting leadership based upon shiny objects and not upon what the shiny objects are or what their functional capacity is.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR’S PROSE PROBLEM
Obama’s Supreme Court pick has lots of talents. Writing isn’t one of them.
—By Stephanie Mencimer, Wed June 3, 2009 11:06 AM PST
As a Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor has a lot going for her: a stellar judicial record, a Yale Law School pedigree, a compelling personal history, and more trial experience than any other sitting justice. But while she’s clearly a bright and talented lawyer, she unfortunately lacks one of the key qualities of a successful Supreme Court justice: writing skills. To put it bluntly, Sotomayor doesn’t write very well. Reporters have sort of danced around this problem. The New York Times’ Adam Liptak charitably described her opinions as models of judicial craftsmanship that are “not always a pleasure to read.”
Liptak’s analysis is something of an understatement. Sotomayor’s opinions read like she’s still following a formula she learned in college and show little of the smart narratives employed by the federal judiciary’s brightest lights. Sotomayor’s impenetrable legal opus stands in striking contrast to much of the work produced by the court she aspires to. Supreme Court opinions, the best ones, are words for the generations. There’s a reason that so many Supreme Court justices are still quoted long after they’ve died. (Think of Robert Jackson, Obama’s hero, who wrote in a 1950 opinion, “It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error.”)
…Sotomayor’s writing rarely hits this sort of breezy cadence (comparing her writing to that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia). Instead, she devotes the bulk of her legal analysis to quotes from statutes, regulations, and other opinions ad nauseam and seems unable to break away from the citations long enough to concisely synthesize the material before her. A good example might be her opinion in Engerty Corp. v. Riverkeeper, which questioned whether the Clean Water Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use a cost-benefit analysis of technology available to reduce the impact of power plants on fish and other aquatic life. (The Supreme Court overturned Sotomayor’s decision, which was in favor of the fish, in April.)
Her opinion in the case runs 80 pages; reading it might be good punishment for law students who show up late for class. Early on, she devotes nearly an entire page to quoting EPA rules that instruct power plants on how to comply with the Clean Water Act. And it takes her 2,500 words just to sum up the basis of the case. A layperson would be hard pressed to glean from the opinion that Riverkeeper is a significant environmental opinion that puts Sotomayor squarely in the green camp. She rules against power plants and in favor of preserving aquatic life at almost any cost, yet the opinion is remarkably passionless. For all President Obama’s talk about appointing a justice with a sense of empathy, the Riverkeeper opinion suggests that what he appointed is a technocrat. The most quoted paragraph of Sotomayor’s majority opinion is this one: (READ THE WHOLE THING…)
EQUAL RIGHTS OR SPECIAL RIGHTS?
The code word for the new racism is “diversity.”
By Thomas Sowell, June 3, 2009 12:00 AM
What does it say about a nominee to the Supreme Court that the most that her defenders can say in her defense is that her critics used words that her defenders don’t like?
What does it say about her qualifications to be on the Supreme Court when her supporters’ biggest talking points are that she had to struggle to rise in the world?
Bonnie and Clyde had to struggle. Al Capone had to struggle. The only president of the United States who was forced to resign for his misdeeds — Richard Nixon — had to struggle. For that matter, Adolf Hitler had to struggle. There is no evidence that struggle automatically makes you a better person.
Sometimes, instead of making you appreciative of a society in which someone born at the bottom can rise to the top, it leaves you embittered that you had to spend years struggling, and resentful of those who were born into circumstances where the easy way to the top was open to them.
Much in the past of Sonia Sotomayor, and of the president who nominated her, suggests such resentments. Both have a history of connections with people who promoted resentments against American society. La Raza (“the race”) was Judge Sotomayor’s Jeremiah Wright. If context is important, then look at that context.
Sonia Sotomayor has, in both her words and in her decision as a judge to dismiss out of hand the appeal of white firefighters who had been discriminated against, betrayed a racism that is no less racism because it is directed against different people than the old racism of the past.
The code word for the new racism is “diversity.” The Constitution of the United States says nothing about diversity and the Constitution is what a judge is supposed to pay attention to, not the prevailing buzzwords of the times.
What the Constitution says is “equal protection of the laws” for all Americans — and that is not taken out of context. People have put their lives on the line to make those words a reality. Now all of that is to be made to vanish into thin air by saying the magic word “diversity.” (READ THE WHOLE THING…)