Great piece from James Ridgeway:
Sonia Sotomayor’s all-but-certain conifirmation will be a notable victory for the Democrats, and a long-overdue victory for diversity on the nation’s highest court. Whether it will be a victory for criminal justice is another question altogether–and one that seems to matter little to most of her liberal supporters.
Long before her Senate confirmation hearings began, progressive politicians, lawyers, scholars, activists, and bloggers had joined together, as if in one voice, to sing Sotomayor’s praises. Beyond predictable paeans to her qualifications and her inspiring personal story, the focus of this chorus of accolades is not Judge Sotomayor’s passion for justice, her moral rectitude, or even her much-discussed “empathy.” Instead, Congressional Democrats and their allies have banded together to celebrate how thoroughly indistinguishable Sonia Sotomayor is from a Republican judge.
In their zeal to show that she is a “moderate,” Sotomayor’s liberal supporters are downplaying all her most compelling qualities, while lauding her most conservative decisions. She has rejected the majority of racial discrimination claims, they crow, and sent most immigrants packing. On criminal justice matters, she is somewhere to the right of the man she will replace, Daddy Bush appointee David Souter. The very facts that ought to make progressives cringe are instead being extolled as Sotomayor’s greatest virtues, since they are the things that render her eminently “confirmable.”