Manuel Miranda's Take on Sotomayor

This Tuesday Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference, a conservative coalition that provides oversight of federal courts, spoke about the Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination at the Heritage Foundation for the weekly Bloggers Briefing. He provided a unique perspective on how Republicans should address the Hispanic factor in the nomination and what can be done to press and filibuster the Senate in the voting process.

Miranda began with a brief discussion of local politics, noting that recent results in debates and voting highlight the fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans. He called for more impassioned debate, articulating the simile that the current state of interaction is “like sugar without coffee — it seems sweet, but you’re left dry.”

He then noted that while Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) is a great leader, he “hasn’t quite gotten it” in terms of judicial appointments. He added that, lacking McConnell’s leadership, Republicans failed to take on nominations in 2006 and 2008. This hesitancy not only leaves reason for concern, but also caused a stark dip in GOP success compared to 2002 and 2004.

Then Miranda, who is of Cuban heritage, followed these opening remarks by making his case against President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.

He described her as “biased” and “imprudent,” and predicted that she will be forced to apologize for her more heated racial remarks. He expressed fear, though, that with a wilted apology, she may be excused for these statements.

He pointed out that his concern with her nomination is focused on the marginal, not broad issues — but that it is often these marginal issues that decide elections.

He agreed that Sotomayor’s is an inspiring life story and that the Supreme Court is a body defined by aspiration and the American dream. He also agreed that the “American people’s capacity for sentiment is enormous.” He feared that this factor may outweigh some of the more professional concerns regarding Sotomayor’s eligibility.

As a Hispanic, he said that the nomination helps highlight issues that define and divide the Hispanic voting block. More than anything, Hispanics are wary of courts that litigate impartially, since many came to the U.S. to escape the biased courts in their home countries. He also noted that Hispanics, most of whom are Catholics, are becoming dissuaded from conservatism by the lack of Republican activity against Roe v. Wade.

Miranda, who had just come from a Spanish language broadcast and was about to appear on Telemundo, mentioned that the average Hispanic listens to 2 hours of radio per day. He argued that Republicans thus need to have a stronger voice on Spanish language programs.

In assessing the Republican response to the nomination, he opined that “I think we’ve been careful” in terms of framing the issue and leveling criticism. He also said that the citizen’s business is political, while the Senate’s is constitutional — but at the same time the government officials are employed by the public, and must be open to the judgments of the population. This sort of public-government confrontation should be embraced, and because it has not, the “debate has not been raw.”

He noted that surveys suggest that Hispanic political opinion generally conforms to the general population and that this specific issue gives the Right a “chance to educate them” regarding conservative judicial principles.

At the same time, Miranda is concerned about Senate leadership, and said that the committee has failed to properly communicate with the public. He is also “concerned” because Republican leadership and the RNC for not having a Hispanic coalition service.

Towards the end of his speech, he noted that Sotomayor’s “temper” “attitude” and “hubristic” behavior may very well lead to a failed nomination. She may “Bork herself,” he joked.