- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Lambro is correct that the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor are unlikely to derail her elevation to the Supreme Court (“An opportunity for GOP,” Opinion, Monday). The hearings are nonetheless important, as they could ensure that her particular brand of judicial philosophy is discredited.

Republicans can use the hearings to define their judicial ideal of strict constitutional constructionism as being blind to the biases of identity politics. This will not stop Judge Sotomayor, as she will say all the right things under questioning. Nevertheless, it will establish a clear contrast to the activism that finally will emerge once Judge Sotomayor is confirmed in her lifetime chair.

The majority of the American people do not support judicial activism, but they rarely see concrete examples of it. This will change with the first activist on the Supreme Court, even if her activism is confined to minority opinions. The Republicans must set the playing field because the appointment of an activist Justice Sotomayor could become a cautionary tale, with the retirements of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens looming ahead.

As Mr. Lambro correctly points out, the confirmation hearings “will be the political fodder of future elections” insofar as Republican senators can better block extreme nominees and Republican presidents can make better appointments. More important, the hearings can establish the dangers of judicial activism and empathy at all levels of the judiciary. With any luck, we can make this activist judge the last of her kind.

PETER LOCKE

Ashburn, Va.

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