In an unguarded moment Monday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that conservative Justice Antonin Scalia occasionally made her so angry that she would have beaten him with a baseball bat if she could have.
During a Q&A session at the University of Minnesota with some 2,700 people present, Sotomayor admitted that Scalia’s opinions sometimes infuriated her.
“There are things he’s said on the bench,” Sotomayor told the room full of lawyers and students, “where if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it.”
Slate LGBT commentator Mark Stern suggested that Sotomayor’s baseball bat comment probably referred to Scalia’s remarks during arguments in a recent affirmative action case.
Stern’s hypothesis gains plausibility in the light of a number of scathing opinions that emerged following President Obama’s choice of Sotomayor for the high court in 2010, where pundits accused Obama of “dumbing down” the court with the appointment of a less-than-qualified lawyer who was herself the product of “affirmative action.”
Writing for CNN, Ilya Shapiro said that in his choice of Sonia Sotomayor, “President Obama has confirmed that identity politics matter to him more than merit. While Judge Sotomayor exemplifies the American Dream, she would not have even been on the short list if she were not Hispanic.”
Shapiro noted that “in over 10 years on the Second Circuit, she has not issued any important decisions or made a name for herself as a legal scholar or particularly respected jurist.”
In picking a case to highlight during his introduction of the nominee, Shapiro wrote, “President Obama had to go back to her days as a trial judge and a technical ruling that ended the 1994-95 baseball strike.”
Critics of Sotomayor, however, were not confined to the Right but spanned the gamut all the way to the far Left.
In a letter to President Barack Obama in 2009, his former Harvard law professor and mentor Laurence Tribe tried to convince the President not to appoint Sotomayor, saying that despite her “demographic appeal” she was not qualified for the job and would stir dissension among the justices.
Although he acknowledged his intent to move the court in a “pragmatically progressive direction,” Tribe counseled the President to steer clear of Sotomayor.
“If you were to appoint someone like Sonia Sotomayor,” Tribe wrote, “whose personal history and demographic appeal you don’t need me to underscore, I am concerned that the impact within the court would be negative in these respects.”
“Bluntly put, she’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, and her reputation for being something of a bully could well make her liberal impulses backfire and simply add to the fire power of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas wing of the Court,” he said.
According to Slate, during Court arguments, Sotomayor often watched Scalia with “a leery gaze,” as though she were dreading the next statement to leave his mouth. When he spoke, “Sotomayor remained frozen in a steely stare,” the article states.
Which probably explains why she would have liked to beat him with a baseball bat, had she had the chance.
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