It’s a big day for big judicial news that really isn’t news at all to court observers.
Earlier this morning President Barack Obama announced his first US Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, surprising absolutely no one. Sotomayor had been on the short list since before there was a short list, and many had handicapped her the frontrunner.
Republicans have been desperately bucking for a filibuster, but this would be an awfully tough moment to go nuclear. If confirmed Sotomayor would be only the third woman to serve on the Court, and the first Hispanic… two constituencies the GOP can’t afford to alienate any further. Sotomayor’s bipartisan pedigree also presents an interesting obstacle to placing obstacles: she was appointed to the federal bench by the first President Bush, and to the appeals court by President Clinton; seven currently serving Senate Republicans voted to confirm her back in 1998.
One other curious observation. While I haven’t found any definitive source regarding Sotomayor’s religious affiliation, she is of Puerto Rican heritage, and was educated in Catholic schools, so at the very least, it is pretty safe to describe her as coming from a Catholic background. Thus if confirmed, the Supreme Court would now be composed of six Catholics, two Jews, and only one Protestestant, the 89-year-old Ford appointee, Justice John Paul Stevens. As I said, curious.
And later today in momentous/unsurprising judicial news, the California Supreme Court is widely expect to uphold the anti-gay marriage Prop 8, in a decision to be released around 10AM.
As expected, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 today by a 6-1 margin, banning same-sex marriage, but unanimously ruled that the 18,000 or so same-sex marriages conducted before the measure’s passage remain valid. That’s kinda weird.
I suppose that’s a victory of sorts for the anti-gay forces, but only for the moment. History is clearly on the side of equal rights, and no doubt Prop 8, which only passed with 52% of the vote, will be reversed by initiative a few years hence.