Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sotomayor Shenanigans?

If you read this blog, you're well aware of the controversy stirred up by TNR's legal affairs writer and law professor Jeffrey Rosen, who wrote what a gossipy, unflattering piece on prospective SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor that relied almost entirely upon anonymous quotes handpicked to leave the impression that Judge Sotomayor isn't all that nice or all that bright. In response to the flap that he stirred up, Rosen followed up with another article "clarifying" his first, in which he cited to comments made about Sotomayor in a publication called the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, a publication that purports to offer balanced profiles of federal judges by quoting lawyers who have argued cases before them. Rosen cites some comments in the most recent Almanac that support the unsourced criticisms he printed in his initial column (though the comments in the Almanac are hardly as malicious as the ones anonymous commentators provided Rosen.) But Rob Kar, a law professor at Loyola Law, notices an odd change in the tenor of the comments in the Alamanc from 2006 and before to 2007, which he details in Drudge-like fashion: 

Scandal! Scandal! I smell a true scandal in the air!

After wondering about discrepancies between the lawyerly evaluations that Jeff Rosen cited in his hit-piece on Judge Sotomayor and some earlier ones that I had accessible, I had someone retrieve the full set of evaluations from her time on the Circuit Court. It turns out that in every year that Judge Sotomayor has been reviewed, lawyers have literally raved (and I am using their word, not mine) about her legal skills (and have been very respectful, if also a bit fearful, of her judicial temperament)...

Until suddenly, in 2007, and shortly before Obama was elected, everything changed on a dime, and she suddently became a "DUMB BULLY." (The most recent Almanac is 2008, so she only became dumb just during the last election season, when--a number of people are starting to think--some people who haven't wanted her on the Supreme Court may have been doing something scandalous...)

He then goes on to list a selection of quotes from the 2006 Almanac, almost universally favorable, contrasting them with the comments printed in the 2007 almanac that have been widely circulated amongst the blogs and are cited by Rosen in his most recent article. He also speculates without confirmation that Megan Rosen, the editor of the Almanac may be Jeffrey Rosen's sister-in-law. So, why the sudden change in tone? Nobody knows yet, but I have a feeling we'll hear more about this. 

No comments: