LatinaLista — It seems that since Judge Sonia Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court, there’s been a full-blown offensive launched by the Grand Old Party (GOP).
Even those among the GOP who always counted themselves as friends of the Latino electorate are disappointing us faster by the minute. Today’s announcement from Sen. John McCain, that he has decided to vote against Sotomayor, was just the latest disappointment in a series of unbelievable actions taken by Republicans and their conservative followers to thwart Obama’s nominee.
Making up his mind extraordinarily quick, Sen. McCain seemed to have slept on what he told CNN’s John King yesterday, host of the show State of the Union, about “still going back and forth” regarding his vote for or against Sotomayor.
In the same Sunday interview, it was ironic that McCain lectured on what the GOP should do regarding the Latino vote:
On the issue of the Hispanic voter, we have to do a lot more. We Republicans have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office. And I don’t mean just because they’re Hispanics, but they represent a big part of the growing population in America. And we have a lot of work to do there. And I am — I am of the belief that unless we reverse the trend of Hispanic voter registration, we have a very, very deep hole that we’ve got to come out of.
One would think that if he meant what he said yesterday, he would have joined his friend South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham in endorsing Sotomayor.
Yet, he couldn’t.
Why? Because suddenly — between Sunday and Monday — it became very clear that Sotomayor was an “activist judge.” According to McCain:
During the hearing, she clearly stated that ‘as a judge, I don’t make law.’ While I applaud this statement, it does not reflect her record as an appellate court judge. As an appellate court judge, Judge Sotomayor has been overturned by the Supreme Court six times. In the several of the reversals of Judge Sotomayor’s Second Circuit opinions, the Supreme Court strongly criticized her decision and reasoning. In a seventh case, the Supreme Court vacated the ruling noting that in her written opinion for the majority of Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor had ignored two prior Supreme Court decisions.
That’s an odd, not to mention, untruthful statement to make when a factcheck by Newsweek magazine published in May regarding how many times Sotomayor’s opinions had been overturned by the Supreme Court found only three such cases.
Of the majority opinions that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has authored since becoming an appellate judge in 1998, three of her appellate opinions have been overturned by the Supreme Court.
Our search for appellate opinions by Sotomayor on the LexisNexis database returned 232 cases. That’s a reversal rate of 1.3 percent.
But only five of her decisions have been reviewed by the justices. Using five as a denominator, the rate comes out to 60 percent.
In any case, 60 percent of the cases the Supreme Court has reviewed is not a particularly high number. In any given term, the Supreme Court normally reverses a higher percentage of the cases it hears. During its 2006-2007 term, for instance, the Court reversed or vacated (which, for our purposes here, mean the same thing) 68 percent of the cases before it. The rate was 73.6 percent the previous term.
In two of the three Sotomayor reversals, at least some of the more liberal justices dissented, agreeing with her holding.
So why did McCain decide to disregard the will of the vast Latino constituency back in his home state of Arizona and vote no?
Could he have felt he had a gun to his back — as in the National Rifle Association?
Not enough people were paying attention last week when GOP leader Mitch McConnell actually asked the NRA to score those senators who voted for Sotomayor as voting against gun rights.
For those of us who don’t know what kind of influence the NRA has enjoyed over the years in Washington, they publish a very influential candidate ratings evaluation where those congressional reps who score low against gun rights soon find themselves out of office thanks to the many members of the NRA.
For a GOP leader to make such a request of an organization that has not before used its influence to impact a Supreme Court vote is not just unusual but underscores the dirty politics that exist with some Republicans in countering Sotomayor’s confirmation.
Even a McConnell aide admitted that for McConnell to make the request was “promoting an unusual step that the NRA then took.”
In his statement today explaining his vote against Sotomayor, McCain specifically refers to gun rights:
When the people of Arizona sent me to Washington, I took an oath. I swore to uphold the Constitution. For millions of Americans, it is clear what the Constitution means. The Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms to protect himself, his home, and his family. The Constitution protects our right to protest our government, speak freely and practice our religious beliefs
It’s obvious McCain is listening to someone but it’s hardly to the Latino voters back home whom he will be counting on to win his 2010 Senate bid.
Reports have him already fundraising for his political coffers, updating his website and developing a strategy to show his constituents that he’s not “out of touch.”
However, with a vote against Sotomayor, he’s woefully out of touch with the one group in Arizona that could help him keep his Senate seat.
Too bad he can’t see that.