Jay Reding notes that Sotomayor’s main qualifications seem to be political:
It would be hard to find a less qualified nominee than Harriet Miers, but Sotomayor does not strike me as a strong candidate. She is, to be sure, qualified for the position, but a seat on the Supreme Court is the pinnacle of the American legal profession. The Supreme Court has housed some of the greatest minds in the practice: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Robert Jackson, and even the current Court has incredibly talented judges such as Stephen Breyer (on the “left”) and Antonin Scalia (on the “right”). Does Sotomayor match up with those legal minds? Her record, at least on a cursory glance seems to suggest not.Judge Sotomayor is not widely considered to be an expert or leading light on a particular field of law, as Stephen Breyer was in administrative law.
(Digression from a non-lawyer: Isn’t “expert in administrative law” the very definition of “damnation by faint praise?” I know – law is complicated stuff, and Admin law is all the moreso, since it lives at the intersection of Too Many Laws Street and Too Many People Who Get Their Jollies Making Rules For Other People Boulevard, and so I’m probably shorting Admin Law’s importance to our society. But admit it; you do, too, don’t you? Especailly since if you’re a non-lawyer, Admin Law has most likely caused you vastly more harm or at least irritation than good. Am I right?)
She has not shown the intellectual caliber of someone like Antonin Scalia or Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Instead, she seems to have been picked because she is a female Hispanic with an interesting life story that meets the basic qualifications.
Sotomayor’s main benefit seems to be as an intellectual and social cudgel; “Not supporting Sotomayor? Why? Whaddya have against Latinas,huh?”
But as others are saying – she might not be the one to burn off all our ammo against. As Reding and many others have noted, she’s a liberal replacing a liberal, Souter. It’s not like the court’s decisions are going to get any more off-the-charts-left with Sotomayor on the bench.