A former clerk of Judge Sonia Sotomayor has written an opinion piece in the NYTimes regarding the questions of "temperament" that keep getting floated.
Funny how those sorts of questions only seem to come up in a negative connotation for female judges, isn’t it? Any of the lawyers in the crowd want to tell me about their experiences with milque-toasty judges who allow the lawyers to run over them in their federal courtrooms?
Not certain I’ve ever run into one either.
There is a specific point made in that opinion piece that needs amplification:
On another occasion, I drafted some research for her that was not well written. When she discussed the memo with me, she started by saying, “You are too smart for me,” and proceeded to ask me a series of questions that I had not addressed. I realized later that this was her polite way of saying: “This isn’t good. Do it over.” She could have said just that, but evidently decided that positive reinforcement was the way to go. This is exactly the kind of skill that a Supreme Court justice needs to persuade her colleagues, who tend to have powerful personalities and do not take criticism well.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the real prize in any new SCOTUS nomination would be the opportunity to sway Anthony Kennedy into a majority coalition and away from the more conservative bent into which he’s strayed since Roberts joined the Court. Roberts selection wasn’t just based on his legal skills, which are substantial frankly, but also on his persuasive and genial social abilities which were sorely needed in the conservative wing of the Court after Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement.
If Judge Sotomayor has comparable skills in that arena? Excellent.
(H/T to reader wb for the heads up on this one.)