07/16/09 — Justice hunt: Sotomayor or someone else ... who cares. We better.

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Justice hunt: Sotomayor or someone else ... who cares. We better.

Watching the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor in her quest to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice is about as exciting as having a front row seat to paint drying.

Other than the sporatic gunfire of questioning about idiotic statements she has made in the past about a "wise Latina" and her views on the role of the judiciary in the formation and enforcement of laws, there is not much to make you want to sit glued to the TV.

And, in the end, it probably won't matter what she says -- unless she completely loses her cool -- Judge Sotomayor will be the next person named as a justice to the highest court in the land.

That is what happens when you put in an insurmountable majority of one party in control of every aspect of government -- choice and debate become a mere formality.

So, you might think, considering the futility of the argument and the inevitability of the decision, there would be little reason to even waste your time thinking about the Supreme Court nomination process -- especially since right now keeping your eye on the people who are managing your tax dollars might seem a more important pursuit.

But here's why you should care about this appointment -- and why you should remember it when you go to choose candidates this fall.

Supreme Court justices make interpretations of the laws that affect your life. Precedents set there can affect every aspect of your life -- from your gun rights to how you are treated at work.

And the worst part is that if you do not like a politician's performance, you can vote him or her out of office. A Supreme Court justice's career does not end until he or she dies or resigns. There is nothing you can do if you get someone in the job who later disappoints you -- or someone who supports values you do not think mesh with yours.

That is why you should pay close attention to the person sitting in the nominee's chair. He or she can directly affect your life -- forever, without even the possibility that any debate or real questions will alter the outcome.

This battle is likely over -- there is no real opposition and the bullet-proof majority cannot really be beaten.

But this is a lesson for those who might have been bothered by Sotomayor decision in the case of the firefighters who were denied a promotion because not enough minority candidates managed to do well on the test -- and for those who feel we know far too little about this candidate.

Decisions made in November have far-reaching consequences.

Published in Editorials on July 16, 2009 10:37 AM