I thought Colorado Senate delegation had finally left the rubber nose and greasepaint era behind. Wrong again. Bennet and Udall are asking Obama to appoint Ken Salazar to the Supreme Court.
I think the Court desperately needs, as Geoff Stone has said, a "true liberal." What the Court needs is a strong, smart, articulate liberal who can rally Ginsburg, Stevens, and Breyer, keep them together, and importantly, win Kennedy's vote on important cases. Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Scalia are not going to see the light any time soon.
The Court does not need a "moderate" (really a conservative) lightweight who would vote fairly often with the new Four Horsemen. As far as bringing Kennedy along? I cannot imagine Kennedy finding Ken Salazar anything other than a nice fellow with a cowboy hat -- or as one of my friends said as we left a Salazar speech - "Not much hat and even less cattle."
What could our Senators be thinking? Salazar is closer to the Four Horsemen than to Stevens et al. Although my co-counsel once called Salazar a "dolt," Salazar is simply a man of average smarts and no intellectual firepower. A follower not a leader. A nice man, perfectly suited to be a state politician and a mediocre lawyer in a sparsely populated rural state. It is unthinkable he would be match for the Court's right wing ideologues.
Have Udall and Bennet even looked at Salazar's record? Do we want another advocate for miners? Criminal miners, for that matter? Do we need someone else on the Court who is hostile to protecting public lands and endangered species? Someone who thinks we need less protection for free speech?
Worse, Salazar would be a babe in the woods. He is so clueless about the role of the Court and the Court's importance that he voted for Roberts after a brief chat, during which Salazar somehow divined that Roberts was "a good man." And being "a good man" was enough. (How sweet.)
And that's not Salazar's only mind-boggling error about the importance of government institutions. Salazar introduced Alberto Gonzales to the Senate and endorsed him for Attorney General. How'd that work out?
Thank goodness Obama isn't an idiot, even if Colorado's senators seem intent on demonstrating that they are dopes.
Now what about Judge Sotomayor?
Another explanation is that Bennet probably still has mostly former Salazar staffers working for him.
I don't know enough about Sotomayor yet to have an opinion. (Diane Wood, I know.) Her parochial school upbringing, experience as a prosecutor, appointment by Bush Sr., and big law firm stint are red flags for me. (I have read that she is good on baseball!)
She probably went through law school early enough to have missed the "'originalism/textualism' is the only responsible theory of interpretation" tidal wave. (Her law school time predates the founding of the Federalist Society, for example.) Hard to know what she thinks about constitutional interpretation without reading more of her opinions. SCOTUSBlog has summarized a great number of her opinions. E.g. http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/judge-sotomayors-appellate-opinions-in-civil-cases/
I also would like to hear more about whether she is a leader or a follower and anything that might indicate whether she is capable of snaring Kennedy's vote in important cases. AWith Court split as it is and Kennedy the only consistent swing vote, how Sotomayor can be expected to interact with him is critical.
Red flags don't necessarily end up negatives. And, prospects for confirmation are important: perhaps Obama would have trouble getting a true liberal appointed. Nonetheless, for most presidents (not to say that Obama is like most presidents) their Supreme Court appointments influence policy much longer than their formal policy programs.