Bench Memos

Missing the Point on Sotomayor’s Public Cheerleading for Obama

At the Huffington Post, Sam Stein imagines that he’s rebutting my criticism of Judge Sotomayor’s disturbingly partisan public cheerleading for President Obama as he points out that Chief Justice Roberts had various Republican ties in 2000 and earlier—before he became a federal judge.

My criticism rests entirely on the fact that Sotomayor was a sitting federal judge when she engaged in her public cheerleading (just two months ago).  Stein quotes the relevant portion of my post—“surprisingly and disturbingly partisan coming from a sitting federal judge”—but somehow manages to miss the point.

The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen also gets confused.  Benen thinks that my objection is akin to complaining about Sotomayor’s “expressing some ideological predispositions” and that her public cheerleading for Obama is the equivalent of taking part in “a Federalist Society gathering, or a conference hosted by the American Constitution Society.”  He also thinks it’s meaningful to note that Justice Scalia and Vice President Cheney were “hunting buddies”—as though that situation has some meaningful bearing on assessing Sotomayor’s public remarks. 

Finally, Benen resorts to contending that “Sotomayor’s remarks seemed to address a sense of cultural and civic pride more than obvious partisanship.”  Oh, sure, there’s nothing obviously partisan about stating, to cite just two of my five examples, that “we are obligated to heed” the “message of service that President Obama is trying to trumpet” and that “[o]ur challenge as lawyers and court related professionals and staff, as citizens of the world is to keep the spirit of the common joy we shared on November 4 alive in our everyday existence.”  You see, promoting the cult of Obama is just a matter of “cultural and civic pride.”

Just wondering:  Has any sitting judge since the adoption of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges ever engaged in such public cheerleading for a president?