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Sotomayor's "Temperament" -- Take Two:

Tomorrow's NYT features a story by Jo Becker and Adam Liptak examining the question of Judge Sotomayor's temperament. The article reinforces some of the critical claims that have been made — such as her questioning style at oral argument — but generally presents a favorable picture of her performance on the bench.

To supporters, Judge Sotomayor's vigorous questioning of the Bush administration's position in the case of the Canadian, Maher Arar, showcases some of her strengths. She is known as a formidably intelligent judge with a prodigious memory who meticulously prepares for oral arguments and is not shy about grilling the lawyers who appear before her to ensure that she fully understands their arguments.

But to detractors, Judge Sotomayor's sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers have described her as "difficult" and "nasty" — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen. Her demeanor on the bench is an issue that conservatives opposed to her nomination see as a potential vulnerability — and one that Mr. Obama carefully considered before selecting her.

Another tidbit in the article is that Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe apparently "served as an advisor" to the nomination process

UPDATE: Ted Frank adds some thoughts here.

secade (mail):
Re "temperment": once a prosecutor, always a prosecutor. Tunnel vision, co-dependence with cops, concealment of exculpatory evidence, leveraged inculpation, accession to subborned Perjury, court-code retaliation, etc ad nauseum; those are cardinal virtues in the occupational-culture of prosecutors.

Sotomayer has hardly tossed the gauntlet down against injustice, notwithstanding case-specific peacock displays. If you want to understand the candidate, assess her prosecutorial work. Or, better, check out her jury massacre in the appeals case of
Jocks v Tavernier

Sotomayer's relationship with cops needs to be scoped in its entirety. Her attitude to arrest powers is patently perverse.
5.29.2009 3:57am
Tony Smith (mail):
The biggest thing in the article was the great endorsement by Guido Calabresi!
5.29.2009 4:12am
Cato The Elder (mail):
Funny quote.

Questions about temperament? Don't worry, readers, she only gets that way when she's talking about the Bush Administration - and you guys all know how incensed one can get when they're involved.
5.29.2009 4:54am
MarkG555 (mail):
I read Jocks v. Tavernier. Sotomayor didn't write the opinion, although she did concur.

The reversal was because an important jury instruction was inappropriate as a matter of law. I'm no Sotomayor fan, but where's the beef?

Mark G
5.29.2009 7:24am
Adam B. (www):
Was a similar article written about then-Judge Scalia in the mid-1980s, or are only women to be criticized for being tough questioners?
5.29.2009 9:40am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think you need a post-Bork example before you can establish a pattern of sex discrimination... I was like 6 when Scalia was nominated, but my understanding is that the manner in which the press covers SCOTUS nominations has changed a bit since then.
5.29.2009 9:51am
PaulTX (mail) (www):
Adam B., supra:

Was a similar article written about then-Judge Scalia in the mid-1980s, or are only women to be criticized for being tough questioners?


Many articles, including the NYT article linked above, have made reference to Justice Scalia's "acerbic" tongue. (And this article doesn't really criticize Sotomayor; in fact, it's close to a puff piece.)
5.29.2009 11:17am
richard1 (mail):
So she's a tough questioner? Big deal. i would have thought that to be a compliment. Can anyone possibly make the argument that being a tough questioner is a detriment for an appellate court or Supreme Court justice?
5.29.2009 12:01pm
Redman:
Her obvious racism is a far greater issue for me than her lack of decorum on the bench.
5.29.2009 12:54pm
TalkingHead:
I think her temper might be an affirmative good, at least from the perspective of a libertarian or conservative. It's unlikely to help her advance her positions with her Court colleagues and it could alienate others. Scalia is faulted for pushing O'Connor to the left. I don't know whether that gossip/speculation about palace intrigue is correct, but at the margins being nasty or testy with colleagues can't be a great asset. I've seen this play out in faculty governance disputes where prickly personalities lost policy disputes based on the delivery, not the message. Emotional jurisprudence a conservative can believe in?
5.29.2009 3:11pm
A. Non E. Mouse (mail):
I don't care if The Wise Latina is a raging bitch who clearly needs HRT...I agree with Redman. The inherent unfairness of her racism is the troubling question.
5.29.2009 3:11pm
jab:
Mouse,

Some advice: Grow up.

No one in their right mind believes Sotomayor is a racist. You're taking ONE line out of a long speech and reading it the most ungenerous way. If you bothered to read the entire speech, you would see how utterly silly that interpretation is. Interesting that NOT ONE single person who knows her personally or professionally are claiming she is a racist... you can't find even anonymous sources who are saying that.

Second, WOW, classy with the passive-aggressive sexism... hormone replacement therapy? Really? And I think in a previous thread, you let it be known that you are a woman? Again, just classy!

Seriously, the public is barely paying attention to this... but when the confirmation hearings begin, and Sotomayor comes as charming, intelligent,and even humorous, it will be the GOP who looks ridiculous.
5.30.2009 1:39pm

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