Boring competence

That phrase pretty much sums up my feelings towards the not particularly surprising nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the nation’s next (and first Latin American) Supreme Court Justice. Not exciting– but certainly competent, and nothing to be the least bit disappointed in.
If confirmed, which is all but a certainty, she will become the sixth Catholic on the High Court (joining Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito) and the eighth non-Protestant (joining Breyer and Ginsberg) as President Obama continues the recent trend to eliminate all Protestants on the High Court, so that we have a Supreme Court that looks like New York. And let’s face it, with a coupla Irish, Italians and Jews, and an odd Black, Latina and one aging WASP (89 year old John Paul Stevens)… it kind of does!
While I don’t recall personally appearing in front of the good judge during her days on the District Court, others I know have, and their opinions of her range from the haughty to the pleasant, but usually most regard her as very intelligent. Well, she crashed the barrier as the first Latina on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York… and now… the world! By the absurd standard applied to Scam Alito– she’s on the federal bench and attended Princeton and Yale Law– Sotomayor, with identical credentials (only moreso, with a humble beginnings story of being diabetic and raised by a single mother in a Bronx housing project) is… a veritable shoe-in. (Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit, btw, the other short-lister, would have been the first person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court having attended exclusively public institutions; some barriers, it seems, may have to wait.)
The only question is to what extent the Republicans are willing to do to themselves what the Democrats did with foolish opposition to my (and the President’s) college classmate Miguel Estrada, to wit, piss off Latinos, with no particular agenda advancement to offset the electoral price. I’m betting they’ll take a half-way position, spouting the usual “liberal activist judge” trope and tripe, but lay off too heavy an attack… we’ll see.
On the whole, though, a highly conventional pick by our President, a highly conventional politician… the atmospherics of our first Black President selecting our first Latina Supreme Court Justice speak for themselves (and Dubya had an opportunity to select Sotomayor himself, but passed). A solid pick, and another barrier is happily crashed through. No matter how much I may like (or be disappointed in) the President’s policies… this sort of thing is an unmitigated good, and I for one am glad to see it.