Rao in NY Times: On Confirmation Wars

Professor Neomi Rao, who worked on judicial nominations for former President George W. Bush, told the New York Times that Bush should have gotten to name the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

"He really wanted to do so," said Rao. She believes Bush was derailed when his Hispanic nominee to the appeals court in Washington, D.C., Miguel Estrada, was blocked by Democrats from taking a seat on that court, which might have put him in position for a later appointment to the Supreme Court.

Rao attributed some of the current conservative backlash against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to conservatives' beliefs that their judicial nominees have been treated unfairly and subjected to personal abuse in the past.

Old Confirmation Wars Fueling Some Critics Now, The New York Times, June 26, 2009. By Neil A. Lewis.

"Conservatives who oppose the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court can quickly list their criticisms of her record.

"But the fervor with which some of those criticisms have been hurled may not be just about Judge Sotomayor. Those emotions, say people who have followed the confirmation wars, are often fueled by the sense of grievance among conservatives and Republicans who say their judicial nominees have been treated unfairly and, sometimes, disrespectfully.

"Richard A. Epstein, a noted libertarian-conservative scholar at the University of Chicago, said he had concluded that the case against Judge Sotomayor was thin but that it was energized by the anger over the treatment of past conservative nominees like Robert H. Bork, who lost his confirmation battle in 1987, and Clarence Thomas, who was narrowly confirmed four years later.

“'There’s no question that those hurts remain powerful today,' Professor Epstein said in an interview. 'And there’s no question that Breyer and Ginsburg were never subjected to anything remotely like that,' a reference to Justices Steven G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the last two Democratic nominees, both of whom faced relatively easy confirmation proceedings."

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