Sotomayor: Yes, You Can Blame Bush

For Republicans in the Senate the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is a lesson in the law of unintended consequences and another unfortunate legacy of the mistakes of the Bush administration.

I have occasionally defended some of Bush’s well intentioned mistakes, but there’s no way to put a happy face on this one, because it is going to put a woman on the highest court in the land who believes that judges should write the laws, that some racial and social groups are more worthy than others, that gun rights aren’t really protected in the constitution, that government can seize your property without due process and give it to businesses and that free speech is a privilege granted by government to some and not others.

The problem which faces Republicans in this nomination, is that they will likely find themselves unable to filibuster or oppose Sotomayor with any vehemence because she is hispanic and a woman with a record of flaws which are ideological rather than ethical. Already great pressure is being exerted on GOP senators from party leadership to go easy on Sotomayor to earn some credit with the administration for the future. The fear is that opposition to Sotomayor may cost Republicans hispanic support at a time when they need every new vote they can get and when hispanic Republican politicians are rising on the national stage, increasing hopes for a breakthrough with that constituency.

The irony is that this would not be nearly as much of a problem for the GOP had it not been for a little noted failure of the Bush administration. The seeds of this situation were planted back in 2005 when Sandra Day O’Connor was retiring and Bush floated the names of a number of hispanic judges as potential replacements, including Emilio Garza, Alberto Gonzales and Consuelo Callahan. In each of these cases Democrat Senators told President Bush that he would face a filibuster against the candidate and his response was to back down and look for another nominee who was more acceptable to Democrats. The problem with this morally weak strategy was that it meant that despite his desire to apppoint the first hispanic justice, Bush threw away that opportunity and the chance it provided to score points with hispanic voters and now that opportunity has been handed to the Democrats.

In 2005 Bush should have picked the best qualified of the hispanic candidates — probably Emilio Garza — and nominated him and taken his chances with a filibuster. Or he could have nominated the ever-cooperative Alberto Gonzales with the specific expectation that he would be borked for the team. That would have put the Democrats in the position of having to attack and filibuster a hispanic nominee, costing them support in that community and making the administration and the GOP look like they were the ones fighting for the advancement of minorities in government. Even though the nomination might have been blocked the result would have been an enormous boost in popularity with hispanics for the Republicans and a ding on the civil rights record of the Democrats. It’s also entirely possible that the Democrats might have been bluffing and would have backed down to avoid seeming hostile to a hispanic nominee.

As in other situations, Bush played politics like an amateur and failed to push what should have been an obvious advantage and the Republican party is still paying the price of that mistake. If Bush had played the situation the right way in 2005 then today Sotomayor would not enjoy the immunity conferred on the first hispanic Supreme Court nominee, the GOP would be stronger overall, and might be able to oppose Sotomayor if their ideological concerns are strong enough. But as a weakened party desperate to be liked, the GOP may very well have to bite the bullet, sacrifice principles again and roll over and accept Sotomayor despite her troubling record. And yes, you can blame Bush for it.


About Dave 534 Articles
Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at


  1. Hi there. Found you through Sandra(Chicks Dig Poetry) Love your “Confession Tuesdays”.Will sclorl through your blog to learn more about you. Suggestions for a fun-read novel: Collin Kelley(Blog: Modern Confessional). is releasing “Conquering Venus” soon. I am reading the first couple of chapters. It’s quite good. Quick synopsis: 1995, Paris, older male teacher-volunteer, and a legal-age(18) coming-of-age young man find something more than love in the City of Lights, set against a backdrop of terrorism.Also, lovely Kate Evans has a follow-up to her first novel(“For The May Queen”), coming out soon, too.It’s called “Complementary Colors” and deals with a married woman falling for a lesbian.Sorry to prattle on. Again, I enjoyed this entry.

  2. better but the eescnse of the point is similar. Sotomayor is arguing that cases involving people from disadvantaged backgrounds are cases she spends considerable time on. There is a hint of rac*sm but hardly the destructive sort of thing everyone’s indicating. As for the Ricci case it’s not published, so we don’t know what she wrote. It might be troubling then again, it could be very specific, and not siding with the fire department so much as implying what they did was legal on a very narrow basis. Since the case cannot be read at the moment, rushing to conclusions is premature.Sotomayor may or may not be the best nominee. But here’s a tidbit as long as the republican party screeches about rac*sm and then goes hardline anti-gay, they’re toast. They’re underlying principle is freedom the free market, free speech, etc. the same principle that says I don’t have to pay for my neighbor’s mortgage says my neighbor has no say in what I consensually do including what contracts I choose to engage in. The state, by law, recognizes all contracts, unless a contract resembles some form of intellectually or physical slavery or can be shown to have been signed under duress, ignorance, or coercion. That’s the eescnse of the conservative ideology the contract/free market approach. You keep hating on gay marriage for political reasons go for it. And when my generation (20 somethings) laugh at you, turning to libertarians or democrats because of the blatant hypocrisy of your contaminated principles, or listening to you groupthink by asking why people aren’t loyal to the republican party, or anything else that tries to invigorate the religious or tribal base, then do not be surprised when we jump ship.

  3. So why won’t anyone pubsilh the whole sentence in it’s orginal context? “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”She HOPES that a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion. Do her opponents HOPE that a Latina woman would reach a worse conclusion? Don’t we HOPE that all supremes reach good conclusions? By HOPING she is admitting that she does not know for sure. And, is she talking about herself or some imaginary future jurist. Sounds a lot like Alito talking about immigration during his hearings. Did someone complain about that? Let the republicans fall into this trap just like they seem to fall into every trap that they come upon lately.

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