Sotomayor's Allies

Emily Bazelon has a great and revealing interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the upcoming edition of The New York Times Magazine. Most of it centers on the role of women on the court, all of which is interesting. The full-throated endorsement of Sonia Sotomayor is itself interesting, the gentle ribbing of Breyer and Scalia as aggressive questioners on the Court and her deep affection for the late Chief Justice WIlliam Rehnquist and her thoughts on his growing sensitivity to feminist causes all make for good reading on the Sotomayor hearings. It's hard to believe that the interview wasn't timed to help Sotomayor not that she needs much help.

I spoke with a Democratic Senator just after Sotomayor made her first round of courtesy calls to Judiciary Committee members. He's not someone who would oppose Sotomayor in any event but he said something which was quite interesting: Sotomayor was incredibly charming, collegial. For him, it helped put to rest the idea that she was somehow uncollegial. "She'll be really potent in conference," the Senator told me, referring to the sessions where the Justices hammer out how they'll vote.

Sotomayor will rightfully get questioned about the New Haven Firefighters case where the Court reversed the Second Circuit ruling and struck down the Connecticut city's aggressive affirmative action plan. She'll get knocked around a bit for her "wise Latina" comments. But she seems heading to an incredibly smooth hearing next week. I'll be especially interested to watch Orin Hatch who was a vocal advocate for Steven Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Will he be on board for Sotomayor. I'm sure conservative stalwarts like Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions will vote against her. There's a reflexive wing in both parties. (Bill Bradley voted against David Souter.) But Hatch is the swing vote I'll watch. And even if he decides to lay down a marker against her, it'll be a pretty easy set of hearings.


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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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