After dismissing the newest United States Senator as the "loud-mouthed former comedian," I wonder if David Broder caught Senator Franken's questioning during the Sotomayor hearings today. If he did, I wonder if he realized that Franken asked, probably, the most compelling and actually relevant-to-big-issues-the-court-will-face questions of the confirmation hearings to date.
As Daphne Eviatar of the Washington Independent notes:
In particular, asked by Franken whether she believes the Supreme Court’s
recent decision invalidating part of the Voting Rights Act was an “activist”
decision that overrode the intent of Congress and the language of the
Constitution, she declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s opinion, but
instead pointed out her own ruling in a previous case involving the Voting
Rights Act, strongly implying that she thought the Supreme Court had indeed gone
In the case she decided, “I suggested that issues of changes to the
Voting Rights Act should be left to Congress in the first instance,” she said.
That was one of the most direct answers on an issue likely to come before the
court that she’s given yet.
And Franken wins points for asking another roundabout question meant to
elicit her views on “judicial activism” — a phrase Sotomayor said she doesn’t
like to use.
“How often have you decided a case on an argument or a question that
the parties have not briefed?” asked Franken. This question goes to the
heart of the Ricci reverse discrimination case, where the Supreme Court on its
own set out a new standard for lower courts to follow, then refused to send the
case back to the courts to let the parties brief how it applied to the facts at
Sotomayor could not remember a single instance of doing that as a
Looks like Stuart Smalley may, as Paul Krugman predicted, RAISE the level of discourse.