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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Weekly Pulse: Sotomayor an Enigma on Abortion
By Lindsay Beyerstein, TPM MediaWire Blogger

Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina and the third woman
ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is currently a federal judge
on New York's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Born to Puerto Rican immigrant
parents and raised by her mother in the housing projects of the South
Bronx, Sotomayor went on to attend college at Princeton and law school at
Yale. George H.W. Bush appointed her to the U.S. District Court in 1991
and Bill Clinton "promoted" her to the 2nd Circuit in 1998.

Political Scientist Scott Lemieux writes for TAPPED that, in light of her
distinguished resume and inspiring biography, Sotomayor's
confirmation
is all but assured:
[…] Obama cited three criteria in choosing Sotomayor: 1) her
intellectual capacity (as demonstrated in her sterling academic record,
her success as an assistant district attorney, and her distinguished
service as a federal judge); 2) her approach to judging based on her
opinions, which represent a high level of craftsmanship and attention to
detail; and 3) her compelling personal story, rising from poverty in the
Bronx to Princeton to being an editor at the Yale Law Journal. This
combination of factors will, I think, make her confirmation
inevitable.


In the Nation, John Nichols says that the Sotomayor pick "reflects
America"
. Within hours of the announcement of Souter's resignation,
conventional wisdom had pegged Sotomayor as the odds-on favorite for the
nomination. There were a few bumps along the way, though. Brian Beutler of
TPM reports on the anatomy of a preemptive whispering
capaign
starring anonymous law clerks quoted in the New Republic
questioning Sotomayor's intelligence and temperament.

While Sotomayor has a reputation for being a liberal jurist, her record
contains few hints about her views on abortion. Attorney and feminist
writer Jill Filipovic reviews Sotomayor's
record on abortion
for RH Reality Check. Sotomayor has only ruled on
one major abortion-related case in her time as a judge, Center
for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush
, and as Filipovic says,
Sotomayor's conclusion "isn't going to warm the hearts of reproductive
rights activists."

But, as Filipovic explains, abortion wasn't the issue at stake in this
case. Rather, the question was whether the Bush administration's Global
Gag Rule was violating the constitutional rights of American NGOs. The gag
rule threatened to revoke their federal funding for working with foreign
NGOs that discussed abortion. For various technical reasons, Sotomayor
concluded that the rule was constitutional after all. Filipovic continues:
If anything, CRLP v. Bush highlights precisely why Sotomayor
should, in a sane world, be an easy confirmation: She sticks to the rule
of law, respects precedent and writes thoughtful and reasoned opinions.
She was nominated to the federal district court by George H.W. Bush. Her
decisions are left-leaning insofar as she generally seeks to protect
Constitutional rights by supporting religious freedom and free speech, and
she often sides with the plaintiffs in discrimination cases - hardly
"activist" material.

Emily Douglas, also of RH Reality Check, notes that the conservatives
aren't buying the "common
ground"
abortion rhetoric the White House has been pushing. Even if
the White House has the votes to confirm Sotomayor, and everyone knows it,
a Supreme Court nomination battle is a golden fundraising opportunity for
the right wing, so expect a lot of sound and fury from that quarter. It
makes them feel relevant.

In other reproductive health news, Dana Goldstein discusses a recent
literature review by the Guttmacher Institute arguing that coitus
interruptus
is an under-studied and possibly underappreciated
form of birth control. The paper got a lot of discussion because the
conventional wisdom is that withdrawal is ineffective. The study cites a
figure that couples who use withdrawal perfectly have a 4% yearly chance
of getting pregnant vs. 2% for couples who use condoms perfectly. However,
the study doesn't compare what percentage of couples who try to use
withdrawal actually achieve perfect use compared to couples attempting to
use condoms or other methods. Sex educators' main concern, apart from the
fact that withdrawal doesn't protect against STDs, is that an unusually
large number of people attempting it fail to achieve the desired results.
If you only count the efficacy for successes, you get a distorted picture.
In a follow-up post, Goldstein asks whether doctors might be biased
against non-hormonal
birth control
.

It's not just big businesses like GM that shoulder the burden of expensive
private health insurance. In a special issue of the Washington Monthly,
Jonathan Gruber argues that a universal
healthcare program
could increase American competitiveness by giving
people the security they need to start their own businesses without having
to worry about whether they can afford health insurance for themselves or
their workers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive
reporting about health care. Visit Healthcare.newsladder.net for
a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws,
and healthcare controversy. And for the best progressive reporting on the
Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net andImmigration.Newsladder.net
.


This is a project of The
Media Consortium
, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets,
and created by NewsLadder.
Posted in Miscellaneous by mld at 1:31 PMPermalink

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