Upholding the constitution is not for part-timers, or people with half-hearted ambition. Those were just a few of the myriad of thoughts that crossed my mind while watching the Sonia Sotomayor hearings, reading transcripts and scouring sites like CNN, The Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal to get the latest insights.
Part of the attention is the fact that it has been over four years since the American people have gone through this vetting process.
To be one of the 8 Associate Justices is an unparalleled accomplishment. Each of these people wield tremendous power; not just in their case-by-case decisions, but also in their individual ability to shape the long-term direction of society and interpretation of the law that binds or frees us.
One of Sotomayor’s catch phrases is “fidelity to the law.” I like that—although the problem arises in the definition of “fidelity”. One person’s interpretation of abortion rights, gun law, and affirmative action, while true perhaps to written law, is likely to differ, in some way, with others. The Supreme Court is the final authority, and so it’s no wonder the level of scrutiny (although some suggest the hearings have become diluted, and present mere pomp and circumstance… that I’m not so sure about) that an individual must undergo to become a justice.
The Judiciary Committee, like the Federal Government, looks markedly different than it did just four years ago, when the majority of senators were Republican. I was particularly interested to see how Al Franken would perform. Would he dare reach into SNL territory in any of his remarks? Of course, he didn’t, and I thought performed well—if slightly in awe—during the opening day.
It’s an amazing process to watch. It’s a front row view into the balance of power, filibustering, personal and ethical branding, world-class debate, and, ultimately, an exceptional display of ambition.
As I watch the proceedings I feel a certain rightness with the approach and that we enable an orderly, intelligent, and extremely challenging process to be open and transparent to all those that would enjoy some real, reality television.