Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Politics As Usual

This afternoon I happened to arrive home just in time to hear Senators Schumer and Gillibrand (D-New York) introduce Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor prior to her swearing an oath to speak only the truth in her Senate confirmation hearings. Her opening remarks, serving in many ways as her only controlled and personal introduction to the American people, were thoughtful and inspiring. Her opening remarks, I believe, were presented and intended in a very non-partisan way. As this nation embarks on what will be at times a tense process, I can't help but pause to consider the historical process that is nominating and confirming a justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Today it should not matter that Sonia Sotomayor is the nominee or that the distinguished senator from Vermont is chairing these hearings. Today it should not matter that Judge Sotomayor is a woman or even a Latina. Today as these hearings begin on a national stage, in front of audiences that are torn apart culturally, socioeconomically or even divided on party lines, it should not matter that Sotomayor has been nominated by a progressive liberal, an African-American man, even. Today it should matter that we are Americans and the process that was conceived and written by our founding fathers hundreds of years ago still works. Today the process of nominating and confirming a jurist to the highest court in the land should be looked to as a historic feat and one that we should feel honored to be observing.

The United States Constitution outlines the process that we will watch over the coming days and weeks and it is simply astonishing that a process first put into place in the 18th century can still be meaningful and effective in the 21st century. What better time than now to review Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution?
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Call me sentimental and easily moved by the historical processes of our nation, but it is simply incredible that thirty-nine men gathered in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1787 at the conclusion of a lengthy Constitutional Convention to sign the very document that outlines for us today how a jurist may be selected to serve on the Supreme Court.

Disregarding the hecklers in the hearing room, the barely veiled cutting remarks of senators with significant philosophical differences with Judge Sotomayor, and the rabid racial epithets that have been used in the lead up to today's hearing, on process alone, today was a wonderful lesson in the brilliance of founding fathers who saw merit in the establishment of a constitutional democracy. And regardless of how a person might feel about Sotomayor the woman or even the jurist, there is something to be said for the historic nature of her potential confirmation representing only the 111th confirmation of a United States Supreme Court justice, the 3rd confirmation of a female jurist, and 1st of an Hispanic jurist.

When we are wise enough to place politics aside, there is a beautiful history at the base of our political system.


Anonymous said...

Sister, you are my history guru and I am very moved by your post.

Well said.


Tara A. Rowe said...

Thanks, Nemesis. Thought I was due for a little bit of nerdiness unrelated to baseball around here... Actually I toiled over the whole 39 men in Independence Hall comment which I suppose means I really am a nerd at heart. Must admit while they did one of those wide shots in the Senate today, I had chills. I don't say that as a fan of one party or another, one candidate/nominee or another, just a fan of this country and the Constitution that governs us.

Julie Fanselow said...

Excellent, Tara. My family and I made our first visit to Independence Hall last month, just a day after viewing the founding documents at the National Archives in DC. Somehow, despite growing up in Pittsburgh, I'd never before been to Philadephia. To stand in that room where our founding fathers charted our nation's course was one of the most moving experiences I've ever had.

I had planned to include a link to a video in support of Judge Sotomayor in our state party newsletter, but the comments at YouTube are full of the same sort of hate speech you've decried here and elsewhere. So I am going to link to this post of yours instead.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thanks, Julie.