Do words matter or not?

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Words matter everywhere, but American society hinges on every word that comes out of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yet, in order to win confirmation to the high court, Sonia Sotomayor wants us to believe that her words should be dismissed lightly. That they've been taken out of context. That they were poorly chosen by her. That they don't mean what they appear to mean. That she was just joking.

Is that how she wants us to approach her written rulings as well -- to just read into them what we want, or better yet, what she wants us to read into them after the fact?

Or is she going to flip a switch at some point in time and boom! it's time to take her words at their face value?

Of course, we're being hopelessly naive and idealistic to believe that words, actions, rulings or anything else matter in the Sotomayor confirmation process. The only things that matter in this process are the numbers: Democrats have the 60 senators necessary to blunt any opposition.

Her confirmation hearing is more of a coronation.

How sad, because words do matter -- especially at the Supreme Court.

She once said policy is made at the federal appeals court level; she cynically joked that she shouldn't admit such a thing, especially on camera.

Today, however, we're supposed to believe that was "taken out of context."

She once said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who has not lived that life."

Today, however, that was just a play on words. "My play on those words fell flat," she told senators, calling it "a rhetorical flourish that fell flat."

A "rhetorical flourish"? That "fell flat"? What the heck does that mean? Play on words? So it was just a bad joke, a poorly turned phrase (which, by the way, she used more than once)?

It's amazing what outlandish fiction the public, media and senators will swallow when they don't want the facts to get in the way of the sheer coolness of elevating the first female Hispanic to the high court.

Even liberal Georgetown University law professor Louis Michael Seidman wrote, "I was completely disgusted by Judge Sotomayor's testimony today. If she was not perjuring herself, she is intellectually unqualified to be on the Supreme Court."

Alas, neither words, nor any other facts, seem to matter.

But just one more question:

If her past words, by her own admission, have such pliability and ambiguity, does she view the words in the Constitution as equally fungible?

Comments (93)

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augustadog
76
Points
augustadog 07/16/09 - 05:20 am
0
0

Pretty sad. Let's hope to God

Pretty sad. Let's hope to God no other justice decides to retire during the Obam era.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 07/16/09 - 05:37 am
0
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The best quote of her's i've

The best quote of her's i've found is from 2005.. "the Court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know."

Riverman1
70956
Points
Riverman1 07/16/09 - 05:58 am
0
0

You missed the point with

You missed the point with Seidman and what's going on with the hearings. Seidman, and other liberals are upset that Sotomayor is backing away from Obama's assertion that he wanted judges with empathy. What Seidman actually said was Sotomayor displayed a fairy tale definition of judging that ignores the discretion a judge has to decide cases where the legalities don't make the ruling. In other words, Obama's empathy factor. She is rightfully distancing herself from her racial and "making law" remarks that the Republicans have called her on. During these hearings, she has moved slightly towards the right. The Republicans are doing their job. By the way, the next nomination for the SC will be WAR. It will fundamentally change the court.

overburdened_taxpayer
116
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 07/16/09 - 05:59 am
0
0

She's not even worth a

She's not even worth a comment. The democrats are going to do whatever they want while in power to include trample the Constitution.

Riverman1
70956
Points
Riverman1 07/16/09 - 06:34 am
0
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To continue a bit....liberals

To continue a bit....liberals want an outright declaration that the SC can interpret the law using nebulous pharses like "cruel and unusal punishment" to rule anyway they see fit. She could have said that. Remember even Scalia has acknowledged, "In fact, the judges of inferior courts often make law." The beauty of the way the Republicans are handling the hearings is that they have defined what a SC justice should do. That makes it harder for later Obama appointments to openly admit to an activist phllosphy. Matter of fact, Republcans should quickly finish their questioning on this note and vote for her confirmation while saying they respect the right of the president to make his choices since she will be confirmed anyway. She may even turn out to be a pleasant surprise from what has surfaced so far.

mpowel21
0
Points
mpowel21 07/16/09 - 06:58 am
0
0

just what I expected, the

just what I expected, the poor little repubs are whining again. This country had to put up with little bush man's administration's lies, deceit, corruption, and cockiness for 8 years, it's time that the Democrats once again repair the damages made by a bush. The woman is an intelligent, well-respected judge, and she will be a great asset to the Supreme Court. you guys are just mad because we are witnessing the end of the 'good ol boy' network

joehill
0
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joehill 07/16/09 - 07:36 am
0
0

"Is that how she wants us to

"Is that how she wants us to approach her written rulings as well -- to just read into them what we want, or better yet, what she wants us to read into them after the fact?" Ummm, no, that would be a pretty good definition of taking things out of context. What she would like, I would imagine, would be for us to read the entirety of her written rulings to understand her positions. I am so glad we have some thinking people in control rather than the reactionaries that make up the republican party.

Little Lamb
40303
Points
Little Lamb 07/16/09 - 07:39 am
0
0

These things, too, shall

These things, too, shall pass.

giveitsomethought
3
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giveitsomethought 07/16/09 - 07:52 am
0
0

MY OH MY sounds just like

MY OH MY sounds just like when the republicans controlled the system. All parties do it and the others cry

justthefacts
18073
Points
justthefacts 07/16/09 - 08:02 am
0
0

Sotomayor is not being

Sotomayor is not being totally honest, one example is her answers on foreign law. She has flip-flopped on the issue, stating in earlier speeches that foreign law should influence judges' reading of the U.S. Constitution, and then testifying at the hearing that only U.S. law controls cases in U.S. courts.
She would make a great politician. Having said that, she has some good points as well. For example, she appears to be tough on crime. The Repub have been very easy on her. It is a done deal.

writer
186
Points
writer 07/16/09 - 08:20 am
0
0

Yes, words do matter,

Yes, words do matter, something the Augusta Chronicle editiorial writers are a bit hypocritical about. Seidman's point, as Riverman1 points out, is "How could someone who has been on the bench for seventeen years possibly believe that judging in hard cases involves no more than applying the law to the facts?" So, the AC, by using the words of a liberal law professor out of context and whining that words matter, is criticizing Sotomayor for saying what the Republicans want to hear. Citizens and editorial writers should be criticizing a system that encourages the theater that Congress puts on everytime a Supreme Court nominee is being considered. The answers are specious because the questions are specious.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/16/09 - 08:29 am
0
0

Sotomayor is replacing Judge

Sotomayor is replacing Judge Souter. Souter was a hard core leftist liberal that felt the constitution was a living breathing document that could be interpreted any way the sitting judge wished. Sotomayor's point of view is identical to Souter's. The balance of the Supreme Court will remain 5 constitutionalists and 4 liberals. Sotomayor's "confirmation hearings" are for entertainment purposes only.

justus4
93
Points
justus4 07/16/09 - 08:42 am
0
0

This publication is always

Unpublished

This publication is always wrong. The judge's words, like all other elected officials, do mean something, but not much. To be accurate, words plus deeds are the standard. This judge has seventeen yrs of cases, but Republicans ignore her record and talk about her speeches. Why? Well, because her record is even-handed and difficult to conclude her political ideology, so they play the race card. Then, the New Haven/Ricci firefighters case is thrown out to scare whites. But this guy Ricci has used his race in three other legal disputes to gain an advantage. He sued to get the job, then sued to get an assignment, now playing the same game to get promoted. The all-white media have avoided his checkered past and made him into a victim: All because of race. Sotomayor will be confirmed and those (R) senators (all-white) had better review their district's demographics before voting "No" cause it could cost 'em.

Michael Ryan
551
Points
Michael Ryan 07/16/09 - 08:43 am
0
0

Our point in quoting Seidman

Our point in quoting Seidman is that he believes she is misrepresenting how she feels, vis-a-vis her earlier statements. That's our belief as well.
Michael Ryan
Editorial page editor

Riverman1
70956
Points
Riverman1 07/16/09 - 08:53 am
0
0

Mike, I dunno...I believe

Mike, I dunno...I believe Englishchick and I were right in pointing out it was wrong to use Seidman's words out of context while missing the whole point that liberals are upset with her.

justthefacts
18073
Points
justthefacts 07/16/09 - 08:55 am
0
0

justus4, I think Sotomayor

justus4, I think Sotomayor has the best description of you. Sotomayor, asked about him in earlier testimony, said any attempt to smear Ricci would be "reprehensible."

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 07/16/09 - 08:56 am
0
0

I think the Republicans

I think the Republicans missed an opportunity to gain some serious points. She is qualified and will be a Supreme Court Justice. So why ask her about two comments from her private life 200 different ways and further alienate dems, moderates, indies, women and minorities. They should have asked questions about her judicial record which is what matters and taken the high road. Would have given them a lot more credibility rather than the politics as usual a dem president nominated you so I want to tear you down. Nevermind Bush I got you your first federal appointment.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 07/16/09 - 08:59 am
0
0

Who's hiding under those

Who's hiding under those hoods in McKee's cartoon, I know a few chronicle editors might be and PLENTY of daily posters, surely Rush, KKKanity, Sessions, Beck, O'Reilly, Ted Nugent, Malkin, Drudge, Dennis Miller, Salvage, Buchanan, Joe the plumber, Newt, Rove, Coulter, Tammy Bruce, and Laura Ingram, to name a few, I can't see in the back of the first three, is there a line?

convertedsoutherner
2
Points
convertedsoutherner 07/16/09 - 09:05 am
0
0

Soto has been coached well

Soto has been coached well for her appearance.

writer
186
Points
writer 07/16/09 - 09:16 am
0
0

Yes, going to law school is a

Yes, going to law school is a good coaching experience for appearing before Congress. For a humorous read on the hearings (where the AC should have gone instead of their pompous, righteous editorial), try this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/opinion/16collins.html?partner=rss&emc...

bdittle
78
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bdittle 07/16/09 - 09:18 am
0
0

You know, she has said she

You know, she has said she regretted using the "wise latina" remark and does believe that a judge is bound by the law. Do those words matter? What really matters is her record as a judge. Everyone has empathy and passion... even right-wing conservative judges. The real test is how does the judge manage them in a court of law.

b1
34
Points
b1 07/16/09 - 09:18 am
0
0

She's a joke. This shouldn't

She's a joke. This shouldn't be about Republicans or dems... this needs to be about this great country we live in. This just shows that politicains will do anything for thier party. This will be a great travesty if she is appointed. I pray to God the right thing is done.

convertedsoutherner
2
Points
convertedsoutherner 07/16/09 - 09:24 am
0
0

What is also disturbing is

What is also disturbing is the fact that it is more important for prezbho and his crooked clan to get a liberal judge than what is best for our great country.

bdittle
78
Points
bdittle 07/16/09 - 09:34 am
0
0

convertedsoutherner, your

convertedsoutherner, your views don't necessarily express what is best for our great country. Obviously a majority of the voting population feels differently. Yeah, I know, I know... sheeple, herd, blah, blah...

Lobosolo
5
Points
Lobosolo 07/16/09 - 09:44 am
0
0

AC, as your revenues continue

AC, as your revenues continue to fade, you still think that the people of our fair city can't recognize chicken shi- from chicken salad. Give us a break, please. Your editorials are starting to move from dittoing Rush to aping the ridiculous Glenn Beck. You need to start respecting the populace's intelligence or move to Columbia County, where the drones agree with you. What an embarassment you are to your readers.

convertedsoutherner
2
Points
convertedsoutherner 07/16/09 - 09:59 am
0
0

So you're saying that only

So you're saying that only liberal views, plans and policies are good for our great country? Sorry but looks like the polls don't agree and many have changed their opinion since electing the incompetent/teleprompter prezbho' plagerist/GAFFE machine biden; the crooked admin; 30+ czars; lobbyists, cheats, liars, racists and socialists; and the dim controlled congress. The predictable blind and gullible libs hate it when facts (not agreeing with their left leaning OPINIONS) are given so they continue to attack those disagreeing. They arent able to discuss the facts so they now attack Beck and continue to attack Rush. That tactic won't continue to work so you need to start getting new marching orders.

AsItIs
1
Points
AsItIs 07/16/09 - 10:16 am
0
0

Have to go back to Europe

Have to go back to Europe every 6 months for new marching orders......

grouse
1594
Points
grouse 07/16/09 - 10:22 am
0
0

The AC editorial staff would

Unpublished

The AC editorial staff would find something to complain about even if King Solomon would nominated by a Democratic president!

southernguy08
415
Points
southernguy08 07/16/09 - 10:29 am
0
0

Words only matter if you're

Unpublished

Words only matter if you're white and/or Republican. Don Imus calls a basketball team knappy, headed ho's and he's fired even after apologizing and kissing Al Sharpton's fat [filtered word]. Jamie Fox calls Miley Cyrus a "little white b#%ch," and he's allowed to apologize and the press moves on. Sotomayer can make an obvious sexist, racist statement and because of her ethnicity and sex, she'll get a free pass. Can you imagine Judge Roberts making such a statement in his past and coming up for confirmation now? He'd be crucified. So much for equality.

bdittle
78
Points
bdittle 07/16/09 - 10:34 am
0
0

If a con whines about how

If a con whines about how tough the white man has it in this country, does the con make a sound?

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