Sonia Sotomayor Doesn't Have Much Faith In How Supreme Court Justices Are Picked

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Who Donald Trump will nominate to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s spot on the Supreme Court has been the subject of much discussion and many nightmares. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is skeptical of how the public and congress are looking at candidates, even aside from any terrifying political agendas.


Sotomayor discussed the topic at Arizona State University’s 18th annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture on Monday night. “What you want is for us to tell you how as a judicial nominee we’re going to rule on the important issues you find vexing,” she said. “Any self-respecting judge who comes in with an agenda that would permit that judge to tell you how they will vote is the kind of person you don’t want as a judge.”

Sotomayor specifically focused on the character of nominees, asking, “Do they treat others with respect and dignity? Find out whether they have ruled in ways in which they expressed a difference with their personal feelings, because a judge who can’t point to a decision that’s different from how they personally feel is not a judge who’s following the rule of law.”

She also explained her concept of diversity when it comes to filling out the Supreme Court, complaining that there’s no criminal defense attorney on the court, none are experienced in environmental or education law, and the only civil rights lawyer is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She said that is what concerns her the most.

The skepticism Sotomayor seems to feel about the Supreme Court process is reflected in how she views the democratic process as a whole. “I am an American—with a Latina heart. I bleed red, white and blue,” she said. “Despite the amount of love we have for America, many people don’t have a full understanding of what makes America great: We are the envy of the world because of our system of government.”

“Unless we get close to 100 percent of our country voting, we’re really not going to be a democracy,” she added, leaving us with a monumental task indeed.



I say that the Democrats should do everything that they can to filibuster.

It would simply be improper to allow the vacancy to be filled by a President who does not have a clear mandate from the American people. And while it is the Senate’s job to provide advice and consent to a President’s nominee, there is simply nothing in the law requiring that the Senate give any consideration to any nominee. The Senate is free to withhold that consent as it does not merely serve as a rubber stamp for the President.

Moreover, let us consider the Justice who would be replaced - the late Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia. There has never been a more strident and vocal champion of originalism and strict constructionism of the Constitution. Nothing in the Constitution requires nine Justices and, in fact, at its inception, the Supreme Court only had six Justices.

There is simply no mandate - either from the electorate or the text of the Constitution - that says that Donald J. Trump is entitled to a Supreme Court Justice nominee. Let the seat remain vacant until we, as a Nation, have a President who has a clear mandate, as evidenced by both a majority of electors and the popular vote. To do any less would be un-American and would dishonor Justice Scalia.