Friday, July 10, 2009

Questioning Judge Sotomayor

NPR's news blog has questions about questions:

Put yourself on the Senate Judiciary Committee for a minute. What would you want to ask Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearing, which begins Monday at 10 a.m.
In a more perfect world, the questions posed during these hearings would be sharply put and at least as sharply answered, but in the world in which we actually live, the questions will be little more than episodes of insufferable grandstanding by Senators, interrupted only by even more insufferable episodes of ideological posturing; and the answers will be a mix of platitudes and banalities that would appall a retarded 14-year-old beauty contest participant. We should expect to learn as much about Sotomayor's view of the law from these hearings as we would learn if she submitted a caricature portrait of herself in which she is waving the stars n' stripes, admiring a piece of apple pie, and singing "America the Beautiful" at a baseball game.

In the spirit of that futility, or perhaps in the spirit of "the audacity of hope" that has become a scrap of overused piece of toilet paper in the hands of certain political figures of late, I propose the following questions:
  • Will you require President Obama and all other presidents to follow his legal obligations concerning the investigation and prosecution of war crimes as defined in the Geneva Conventions and other treaties to which the USA is signatory? Will you do everything in your power to force him to obey the law in all aspects of his conduct of war? Will you still do so even if he gives an eloquent speech saying that "next year" would be a more politically expedient time to obey the law? Or if he explains charmingly that he would prefer to defer to "the commanders in the field" on obeying the laws of war? Or will you sit there like another dithering, oh-so-moderate, go-along-to-get-along lump of chickenshit?
  • What does the 9th Amendment to the Bill of Rights mean, and how, specifically, will it guide your decisions on matters pitting individual liberty against state action?
  • Do you really want to hang out with Scalia? Seriously? A follow-up if "yes" -- do you realize he is a complete asshole?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 = "a minor itch successfully scratched" and 10 = "narrowly averted being chained to a two-ton concrete slab and sunk to the bottom of a lake," how relieved are you that Joe Biden is no longer a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee? A follow-up: how do you plan to spend the extra months of life gained by not having to sit through former Senator Biden's meandering, largely pointless questions?
I continue to know approximately two things about Judge Sotomayor: she is Latina with an inspiring-to-many personal history, and nearly everyone seems to agree she will be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I expect to know little more in a fortnight.

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