Why Sotomayor Was A Bad Choice

Sonia Sotomayor is intelligent.

She is qualified.

And if I were Senator in the United States Senate, I would vote in favor of her confirmation.

But I completely disagree with President Obama’s decision to nominate her for the Supreme Court.

There’s been a bit of controversy over what qualifies someone to be on the Supreme Court. Should a Justice be empathetic to those affected by the law? Does one’s life experience impact the way they perceive legal issues? Is the diversification of the court an important goal?

On all three of these issues, I side with majority of liberals who emphatically say yes . Diversity is important, personal experience is relevant and empathy is fundamental to the interpretation of law. But all of this misses the most fundamental point. The most important qualification in selecting a Supreme Court justice is a sharp intellectual acumen.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Sotomayor is probably a very smart woman. Easily smarter than I am. But we’re not judging Sotomayor relative to a lay person. We’re judging her relative to the best of the best in all of the legal kingdom. This includes Academia, Government, and the judiciary. Has anyone, supporter or critic, ever made the argument that Sotomayor is one of the leading legal minds in her field? Has anyone ever lauded her for her amazing intellect? The answer to both these questions is a no. In fact, if you had a five minute conversation about all of the things that make Sonia Sotomayor a good judge, the words sharp legal mind would never come up once. And this is where my problem with her begins.

Sotomayor’s leading intellectual accomplishment thus far, seems to have been putting together a impressive resume. Congratulations, you were smart in college thirty years ago. What did you do with that intellect in the real world? Did you fight for bold ideas like Pamela Karlan? Did you make yourself into a renowned and respected legal mind like Elena Kagan? As a judge were you an outspoken defender of  progressive rights like Diane Wood? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding no. The sad truth is that despite all the trail blazing Sotomayor has done in her personal life, she’s done very little trail blazing in the legal field.

At a certain point a disconnect forms between an impressive resume and an impressive career. Some people have one, but not the other. And every sign I’ve seen thus far points to Sotomayor having the former but not the later.

Does this mean Sotomayor will be a poor Supreme Court Justice? Not at all. Throughout her career she’s proven herself to be a very competent judge with a thorough underunderstanding of the law. But lets not kid ourselves here. Supreme Court appointees have life time terms. and there’s only nine of them. We never know when the next one will retire, or god forbid unexpectedly die. That is why its of the utmost importance to make every pick count. To aim for the fences with every swing, as if this person will be your only chance to shape the makeup of the most important court in the world. Because the truth is, it might.


Essential Sotomayor: Everything You Wanted To Know About Sonia Sotomayor

As expected, President Obama officially nominated Federal Appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice.

You can read a non biased exposition of her cases here.

It looks like Salon read my blog entry in which I made a political case for Sotomayor.

John Dickerson did too. But he tries to one up me with a slightly different take

If you’re unsure of how to pronounce Sotomayor Slate has you covered.

A Daily-Kos diariest who’s argued before her isn’t too impressed either. (But say’s she’ll be a reliable center-left judge)

A quick point-counterpoint rebuttal of conservative arguments against Sotomayor.

One thing conservatives won’t attack Sotomayor on. Her role in ending the 1995 baseball strike.

Empathy = Weak Argument against her.

Various lawyers who have appeared before her give their feelings.


Katy: “So apparently it picks random pictures of me with stuff in my face. ”
Phil: Good thing you don’t have any pictures from the NPDA after party then…
Katy: If you were here, I’d hit you for that remark. Since you aren’t, I’ll play along and say: Phil, you know facebook prohibits those kinds of photos. Ha, ha.
Phil: If I were there and you hit me I’d say “ohhh kinky.” But since you aren’t I’ll play along and say: Katy, facebook might prohibit those photo’s but my personal collection does not.


Chad: the best stuff was when he was in love with a girl you’ve already banged
Chad that gave an extra tense awesomeness to it
Chad: touchy subject?
Phil: haha
Phil: hell no
Phil: remember, i was the one that exposed that to most of the facebook world
Chad: about to say – i didn’t think you had feelings
Phil: i dont have feelings…where my feelings are supposed to be is just extra awesome


Chad: i read some of your blog today – most of it reviled me…but i kept on reading. the sign of a great author
Phil: thanks
Phil: i go for that disturbing yet addicting aspect


Phil: *grabs boob*
Steph: gross
Steph: shut up
Phil: psh
Phil: last time i stop you from errupting in a glorious blaze
Phil: so how was your day?



And for Matt and Foy

Kryztal: its apple
Phil: you have a macbook
Phil: i find you infinitely more attractive

Yes, Nathan Fillion SHOULD Play The Green Lantern

…which is exactly why Warner Brothers, never in a million years would cast him. It makes too much sense. Still, this fan made trailer is teh awesome:

Instead of Fillion it looks like this jackass is going to be entrusted with the Green Lantern ring. Don’t get me wrong, from everything I’ve heard, The Hangover will be an amazing movie, but I just don’t see Bradley Cooper as Hal Jordan, or even Kyle Rainer. Personally, I agree with Harry from AICN who says Cooper looks the part of Sinestro.

But we shall see…

Spread Debate Makes Debut on Capital Hill

For all of you debaters out there who were always told that reading fast was a useless skill, I’ve got some good news for you.

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce committee, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, has been threatening to force the committee clerk to read the 900-plus page bill as a way to drag out the markup of the Democrats’ climate change legislation. Worried that this could jeopardize his goal of voting the bill out of committee before the Memorial Day break, Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman of California hired a speed reader, in case one was needed to publicly race through the massive bill.

Barton decided not to follow through on his threat — but he wanted to find out what a speed reader sounded like. He requested that one of the Republican amendments be read in full, and asked that the new hire take over for the full time committee clerk. Waxman obliged, and Douglas Wilder sat before the committee and began reading rapidly. He spoke so quickly it was impossible to decipher his words, as listeners began to laugh and applaud.

Here’s the video via TPM:

Joe Barton, you just got spread. Though as any debater can tell you, Mr Wilder, wasn’t really going fast. Just ask these guys.

RNC Slams Obama For Opposing Slavery

The RNC sent out this twitter update Thursday bashing Obama for calling the original  constitution deeply flawed. Of course, they left out this important part:

Media Matters:

A September 6, 2001 program called “Slavery and the Constitution” on WBEZ Chicago…. Obama explained that the “fundamental flaw” [in the Constitution] was [that] “Africans at the time were not considered as part of the polity that was of concern to the framers.” In addition, the framers did not “see…it as a moral problem involving persons of moral worth.”

My name is Phillip Allen, and I too think the constitution was deeply flawed.

Conservative Radio Host Gets Waterboarded- Admit’s It’s Torture

Waterboarding is “teh suck”:

You can add Eric “Mancow” Muller to the list of conservatives who have admitted Waterboarding is torture after experiencing it first hand:

“I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” he said. “They cut off our heads, we put water on their face.” But that’s not how it came out. ” I don’t want to say this,” said Mancow. “Absolutely torture.”

And as several liberal bloggers have pointed out, this is coming from someone briefly experiencing  waterboarding in a strictly controlled situation, where he knew he wouldn’t be harmed. What’s even more amazing is that this seemed like waterboarding-lite compared to the experience Christopher Hitchens went through. (Video)

But what really fascinates me the most is the simplicity of waterboarding. Its quick, non evasive, effective and disturbingly simple. Its the kind of torture anyone could do at home using only a black shirt and a gallon of water.