Sotomayor, authoritarian? - Input Junkie
From The Agitator
I mentioned the other day that the emerging image of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is not one of an “empathetic” or “activist” judge, but one of a left-leaning authoritarian, sort of a mirror image of Samuel Alito. She’ll be a reliable vote to uphold government power, be it for cops, prosecutors, regulatory agencies, or the executive.
Any counterexamples? Opinions about which way she trends?
From what I have read, she is a judicial centrist. The rabid right-wing perspective sees that as Satan incarnate.
All of the stupidity seems really aimed at Obama, but using her as the pincushion.
The reason I posted the quote is that it's from Radley Balko
, who's done quantities of work reporting on justice system atrocities, but who also praises competent, honest government.
|Date:||June 13th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)|| |
What does "centrist" mean in this context?
Balko is complaining about a particular aspect of Sotomayor's record -- that she (allegedly) tends to side with police and government power. How does describing her as a "judicial centrist" address that claim?
By "centrist" I mean that her judicial leanings will likely piss-off the right and left in roughly equal proportions.
There was one case Sotomayor ruled on which, by itself, should disqualify her from office.
A man owned a plot of land and had been working for ages to get the funding and paperwork together to put a CVS pharmacy on it. However, the city had decided it wanted to put a Walgreens on it. It hired a private consultant, who went to the man and said he either had to hand over the land or pay $800,000 to the consultant to make the problem go away.
The man said now, and very next day his property was condemned, to be handed over to... you guessed it... the private consultant.
Sotomayor ruled that not only was the action within the Supreme Court precedent Kelo v. New London (i. e. government can use eminent domain to take property from one private individual to give it to another solely to raise property tax revenue), but that the actions involved did not constitute extortion using the power of government, and thus the original property owner had no case.
This article from Forbes
offers another view of the matter.
No record of the conversation was kept, and the private consultant says he offered either to take $800,000 or give $800,000, since either development was going to make about two millions. (Sotomayor dismissed the matter as unproven.)
Are you assuming that the condemnation was for chump change? It was $975,000.
The amount of the condemnation is irrelevant. The main point is that the power of eminent domain was used for the sole purpose of benefiting a particular private individual. You can't even argue in this case that it's a matter of increasing property tax revenue- a CVS and a Walgreens would bring the same revenue.
The effort to extort money (not proven) is icing on the cake. This is a clear injustice and abuse of power... and Sotomayor approves of it.
Actually, the Forbes article does support a case that municipal revenue would have increased with the Walgreen's. The CVS development would have left a vacant lot, surrounded by the shopping mall; the Walgreen's plan included it.
But, more importantly, her action (here as elsewhere) was not to approve or disapprove the actions of local government; it was to decline to intervene in them. When (however rarely) this is done by conservative justices, their friends call it "judicial restraint".
It's plausible that most court cases are about local governments doing too much rather than too little. Frex, you can't sue the police for failing to arrest a criminal.
Just letting local governments do whatever they're doing might well add up to supporting more government authority.
|Date:||June 13th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)|| |
I'm no fan of Obama, but I smell sexism in this piling on Sotomayor.
It's hard to be sure.
Supreme court justices make a huge difference, so it isn't surprising if they're both carefully examined and subject to partisan attacks.
Authoritarianism isn't one of the things women are usually attacked for.
Please use a name or nickname so that I can tell you from all the other anonymous people in the world.
No counter-examples here. From the list of her opinions that was on ScotusBlog, I came to the same conclusion: given equally valid points of law, she consistently sides with the powerful over the weak: cops over civilians, government over citizens, corporations over employees. Strong authoritarian bias in this one. Which makes it all the more ironic that the Republicans are opposing her nomination, she's one of them in all but name.
So would you say it's pure partisanship, or would you include some racism and/or sexism?