Historic Supreme Court Pick


Judge Sonia Sotomayor (Image: whitehouse.gov)

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On "The Tavis Smiley Show," Maryland Law Professor Sherrilyn Ifill discusses President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, as the speculation now moves to how Judge Sotomayor's confirmation will play out in Congress.

Professor Ifill explains what in Judge Sotomayor's background sets her apart: "Judge Sotomayor really represents a kind of different face of Latinos than I think we've been seeing throughout the Bush administration -- we've seen Alberto Gonzales and others who are Mexican-Americans from Texas and the southwest; she is the daughter of two Puerto Rican parents who came to New York. She grew up in the South Bronx, she developed diabetes at age eight, and so really very, very common beginnings; but a different kind of Latino in that she's northern, in that she's Puerto Rican, in that she's very urban, and so it's a different face to the Latino population -- one that's very familiar to those of us who are in the northeast, but that I think is going to be an interesting one for Americans to become acquainted with this summer."

And the types of opposition judge Sotomayor will face: "Let's see, let me guess ... she's a Puerto Rican woman judge ... she's temperamental and not that bright -- that's been the story that's been floated as ... a trial balloon, and not all of it by the way coming from the right. You've heard people not associated with the right ... saying she's not that intellectually capable, I mean the legal profession has its own problems as it relates to race and gender, and so this is not surprising -- that's where it's going to come from.

"For the Republicans, this is a huge base building and fundraising opportunity this summer -- they've been looking for something that they can rally around. They've had a number of missteps -- they've got Michael Steel they have to deal with -- this is a good opportunity for them to rally their base.

"And so they've got an affirmative action case that judge Sotomayor was on the panel in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a ruling against a white fire fighter in a promotions case, and that case is before the Supreme Court, it will be decided in the next few weeks. So they'll have that as something to rally around.

"And so I really think that this is going to be dragged out. The result we know will be that she'll be confirmed. But for the Republicans, it's an opportunity to get back on the screen to rally their base and to raise their money."

Professor Ifill believes conservatives will raise the issue of affirmative action with judge Sotomayor, but also that abortion will also be a major issue.

"The Tavis Smiley Show" is a weekly show offering a unique blend of news and newsmakers in expanded conversations, along with feature reports and regular commentators. "The Tavis Smiley Show" is produced by Tavis Smiley productions, and distributed nationwide by PRI.

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