The L.A. Times today says of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:
Later, in a 2005 speech, she suggested that the federal appeals courts “is where policy is made” — although she quickly suggested she was joking.
I call B.S. on that characterization, and invite you to watch the (very short) clip to judge for yourself:
Here’s my transcript:
All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is — Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don’t make law. I know. OK, I know. I know. I’m not, I’m not promoting it and I’m not advocating it. I’m, you know. OK. Um. [Laughs]
She’s not saying she was joking; she is actually saying: OK, I just realized that the truthful statement I just uttered is something I’m not supposed to say.
As I noted in an update to my initial post on this quote, when it’s understood in its proper context, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. She was distinguishing between the role of district courts (which by and large don’t worry about the policy implications of their rulings) and that of appellate courts (which have to worry about how the principles they enunciate will apply to future cases). She worded the concept especially badly — something she quickly recognized. But that’s not the same as saying she was joking. She just said it really, really badly.
But I’m pretty sure that precision in speech is not a necessary attribute for a Supreme Court justice. Not when you consider the importance of empathy and group representation.
P.S. If there’s a silver living, it’s this: she appears to be OK on criminal law issues.