Evidently, the characteristics that matter most for a potential nominee to the Supreme Court have little to do with judicial ability or temperament, or even so ephemeral a consideration as a knowledge of the law. Instead, the tag line for this appointment says it all. The president wants to choose “a daughter of Puerto Rican parents raised in Bronx public housing projects to become the nation’s first Hispanic justice.”
Obviously none of these factors disqualifies anyone for the Supreme Court. But affirmative action standards are a bad way to pick one of the nine most influential jurists in the U.S., whose vast powers can shape virtually every aspect of our current lives. In these hard economic times, one worrisome feature about the Sotomayor nomination is that the justices of the Supreme Court are likely to have to pass on some of the high-handed Obama administration tactics on a wide range of issues that concern the fortunes of American business.