Is Sotomayor the right choice? No: Court, empathy don't mix

WASHINGTON -- The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is groundbreaking for a number of reasons, and is a reaffirmation of the faith American voters displayed electing President Barack Obama.

Judge Sotomayor is widely respected by her colleagues, both liberal and conservative. While many of her rulings are left-leaning, they are not out of the mainstream. In fact, watchdog organizations that review judges call her a moderate.

Her initial nomination to the federal judiciary by a Republican president and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill through two separate hearings should put to shame those on the Right now shouting that old "liberal activist judge" mantra they haul out whenever they disagree with a ruling.

Let's be honest. It's really only the liberal part that works them up. They are fine with conservative activists such as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who chip away at the laws our elected officials pass to prevent discrimination and give equal access to education; and who would have the government making our medical decisions, listening to our conversations and snooping into our bedrooms.

Judicial extremism is a two-way street and, after eight years of Bush appointees, they have no legs to stand on with that tired argument.

That's likely why the only criticisms of Judge Sotomayor are thinly veiled racist and sexist attempts to undermine the fact that she is a smart, capable and pragmatic judge to whom no serious person could object.

They are saying she isn't smart enough. They say she's only been chosen to shore up President Obama's support from Latino voters.

They say that, because of her background, she would not uphold the U.S. Constitution. And Rush Limbaugh, scraping the bottom of even his rhetorical barrel, claims she's a "reverse racist." What is truly remarkable about Judge Sotomayor is her story is exactly the sort of "boot straps" tale conservatives hail as our heart and soul.

If confirmed, she will be only the third woman to serve on the Court and the first Latina. She is also the first to grow up in public housing.

Her story is one of which all Americans should be proud. Born into a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx, Sotomayor's working mother taught her the power of a good education.

As a result of her hard work, Sotomayor was the valedictorian of her high school class and received a scholarship to Princeton, where she graduated summa cum laude. She eventually completed a law degree from Yale and served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. Smart enough for you? Certainly for us! After graduating from law school, Sotomayor went into public service, becoming an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, where she tried dozens of serious criminal cases and was known as a "fearless and effective prosecutor." In 1992, she was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York by the first President Bush and later to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Clinton. That fact alone should underscore her bi-partisan credentials.

Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone who has been confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years.

Indeed, Judge Sotomayor's record is exemplary. The cynical who think her nomination is about gathering political support from a growing block of voters fundamentally do not understand what this country is all about.

It is a place where anyone, no matter their beginnings, can work hard, achieve and expect to get a fair shake from their government. The United States is a diverse nation and by appointing a Supreme Court Justice who reflects that diversity, President Obama is ensuring that justice is applied equally and fairly to all.

Isaacs is the National Director of Americans for Democratic Action (, America's largest and oldest independent liberal lobbying organization.