Harold Ford, Jr. on Sotomayor: "This country needs her on the high court."

May 27th, 2009

Assessing Sonia Sotomayor

The Washington Post asked for first impressions on Obama's Supreme Court pick.

by HAROLD FORD JR.
Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council; former House member from Tennessee

“I am an ordinary person with extraordinary experiences,” the next Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, said this morning with the president and vice president standing behind her — as a country full of complexities, experiences, challenges and varied backgrounds stood before her. This country needs her on the high court.

Predictably, she will inspire the right's ire. We all know the attacks: “She's too liberal” and “she's a judicial activist.” Lack of substance will lead these arguments to fade fast, and she will be confirmed for many reasons, two of which stand out.

First, Sotomayor's record defies ideological caricature. Her credentials, temperament and legal experience are unassailable. One may disagree with her conclusions but not the power, rigor and depth of her intellect. Further, the right must remember that she was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush.

Second, she humanizes the court. The millions of Americans who haven't grown up with much can relate to someone who started out in a Bronx public housing community. And her roots will help her identify with people across the spectrum. In short, she brings an informed empathy.

The Senate should hold hearings, examine her record thoroughly — and barring anything disqualifying — confirm her.