Well, at least Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor thinks it’s funny that people might criticize her for making the law in her own image when she disagrees with it.
Well, Sonia, this is not a joke. Nobody elected you to any position for you to “make policy.” That is the jurisdiction (perhaps you’re familiar with the word) of legislatures.
When a law is first conceived, it is usually done to address some sort of grievance or some loophole in an existing law. Legislators are allowed to take everything into account: How will this new law affect the poor? The rich? Will it have an adverse impact on blacks? On whites? On Hispanics? What will be the long term effects of the law?
In an ideal world, laws would be carefully written and even more carefully read, thoroughly debated both honestly and publicly at great length, and voted on without regard to party politics or identity politics. The votes cast for or against the law would be based on the best argument in the honest and public debate, and lawmakers would be moved by their own consciences and by the opinions of both their fellow legislators and the public. Laws should be passed slowly and carefully because once enacted they become very difficult to overturn. We don’t live in an ideal world, of course, and we never will. We can’t immanentize the eschaton, remember?
Jurists like Sonia Sotomayor believe something far different. They believe that justice is more important than law, and that justice is defined as whatever they wish it to be.
Law is the pursuit of justice, and when a law creates unjust results, the law can be changed by the same (or succeeding) legislatures. Unforeseen effects of the law can be taken into account and legislators, after another lengthy, public, and honest debate, can amend the law or eliminate it entirely. It is unfortunate when justice is not served by the law, but it happens and there are checks in place to further the cause of justice.
It is the role of the people of this country to elect legislators that will put into place the laws the people want. It is the role of the legislators to pass, and amend, laws. It is the role of the judiciary to see that the laws are being followed according to what they say. Sonia Sotomayor, and her soon-to-be fellow justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, and to a slightly lesser degree, Anthony Kennedy turn this notion upside down.
In Sotomayorland, the people elect the legislator, the legislators debate and pass the laws, and then Sonia Sotomayor decides what the law really means. If the law says one thing, and Sonia Sotomayor wishes it said something else, then poof! like magic, the law is interpreted to mean something else.
Recently a group of New Haven firefighters were blocked for promotion because they were white (and, in one case, Hispanic). They did better on the tests, but were told that because no blacks did well enough on the test to get promoted the results of their hard work and hours of study were eliminated. They sued on the grounds of discrimination in what certainly appears to be an open and shut case.
Enter Queen Sonia.
The case ended up in Sotomayor’s court, where the Queen apparently believes that it’s okay to discriminate against non-blacks in the name of diversity. She dismissed the court case without so much as an explanation in what one of her fellow judges (a liberal judge, no less) said was an attempt to bury the case. In Sotomayorland, whether the litigants were right or wrong under the law was irrelevant. They were wrong under Sonia Sotomayor.
This disregard for the law as it is written has led her decisions to be overturned numerous times. She has had several decisions appealed to the Supreme Court. Out of a possible 44 votes in her favor, Sonia Sotomayor has received only 11. What this means is that she is out of touch with even the liberals on the Supreme Court.
So what can be done? How do we keep a far-Left radical ideologue off the Supreme Court?
The short answer is that there is nothing we can do. Sonia Sotomayor (unless some scandal comes to light that forces Obama to pull her name) will sit on the Supreme Court and she will continue to make legal decisions based on her personal and political beliefs with an utter disregard for the letter of the law. This is why she was picked.
What judicial conservatives of all parties should do is open this debate publicly and honestly about what it means to be a justice and whether or not judicial activism is something that is desirable. Sotomayor should be grilled without mercy about her beliefs and her prior rulings. The left will try to paint anyone who opposes her as an anti-Hispanic bigot and her opponents will need to be able to counter that disgusting and bogus charge, not shrink in fear of it. Then she should be voted on by the Senate. No filibusters, just a straight up or down vote.
Elections have consequences, and Sonia Sotomayor is going to be a doozy.