sábado, 8 de agosto de 2009


El New Yorker publica un comentario de Jeffrey Toobin (autor del excelente The Nine) en donde analiza la comparecencia de Sotomayor ante la Comisión del Senado encargada de aprobar o no las nominaciones a ministro de la Corte. Toobin reflexiona sobre cómo las comparecencias de Bork cambiaron el sentido de éstas y obligan a los nominados a simplemente contestar lo que la gente (los senadores) quieren oir. Lo que resalta de las comparecencias es el tipo de preguntas y el tema que permeó las reuniones: el género y la raza.

Toobin se pregunta cómo deben los jueces interpretar la Constitución, en cuestiones no específicas. Y responde "es una cuestión política, no legal...por eso no deseo jueces de mente abierta, sino jueces con mentes bien ilustradas y cargadas de ideas".

Answers to Questions

Jeffrey Toobin

In her opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sonia Sotomayor said that she wanted to clear up some questions about her views. "In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy," she said. "Simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make law—it is to apply the law." Coming from a jurist of such distinction, this was a disappointing answer. Like much of her testimony, it suggested that the job of a Supreme Court Justice is merely to identify the correct precedents, apply them rigorously, and thus render appropriate decisions.


Still, watching a Supreme Court confirmation hearing is not a completely unedifying experience. The tableau of the first Hispanic nominee to the Court—a veteran judge of impeccable professional and academic credentials—addressing the Judiciary Committee was a satisfying one for those who care about a diverse and inclusive society. The best barometer of the current moment in law and politics, however, came not from the Judge's answers but from the senators' questions—the ones they chose not to ask as well as the ones they did.

In a curious way, the election of Barack Obama has hurt the traditional civil-rights agenda, which, since the nineteen-sixties, has included special measures to assist minorities in education and employment. Fairly or not, the politician who needed no help to vanquish Hillary Clinton and John McCain now stands for the idea that all playing fields in the United States are level. In any event, as the Sotomayor hearing illustrated, it's getting harder to argue otherwise. This is, in many ways, good news, because it means that some barriers to opportunity have fallen.

En otro comentario, pero publicado en junio, el mismo Toobin habla acerca de la diversidad en la Corte, algo que no es nuevo y que sí, es indispensable al discurso democrático.
Diverse Opinions
At the Court, as in American life, the rules of diversity have changed. Regional differences faded long ago. The fact that two Arizonans, O'Connor and William H. Rehnquist, served together for almost a quarter century mattered little to anyone. Religious tensions have also cooled. By the time Bill Clinton named Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer to the Court, the fact that both are Jewish (and replaced non-Jewish predecessors) was little more than a curiosity. If Sotomayor is confirmed, there will be six Catholics on the Court, which is also of minor significance. George W. Bush appointed John G. Roberts, Jr., and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., because they are conservative, not because they are Catholic. (The Catholic Brennan was the Court's greatest liberal.) More than anything, it seems clear that the President saw in Sotomayor a kindred spirit—a high achiever from a humble background who reflects, as best as can be determined, his own brand of progressivism.
It's hard to attribute any of her opinions directly to her gender or to her ethnicity, but, as she has observed, her background is inseparable from her views—a circumstance that has applied to every Justice who has ever served on the Court.

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