Blown circuits: Rove levels attack on Sotomayor based on false claim that she and Alito were colleagues

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & GREG LEWIS

Karl Rove claimed that he "got wind of" allegations that Sonia Sotomayor "was combative, opinionated, argumentative" while reviewing the record of her "colleague on the court" Samuel Alito. In fact, Sotomayor served on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Alito served on the 3rd Circuit.

On May 26, Karl Rove claimed that while reviewing Samuel Alito's record for a possible Supreme Court nomination, he "got wind of" allegations that 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor -- who Rove claimed was Alito's "colleague" on the 2nd Circuit -- "was combative, opinionated, argumentative, and as a result, was not able to sort of help create a consensus opinion on important issues." In fact, contrary to Rove's claim that Alito was Sotomayor's "colleague on the [2nd Circuit] court," Alito served on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a fact that seriously undermines Rove's anonymously sourced allegations about Sotomayor's temperament.

On the May 26 edition of Fox News' On the Record, Rove said:

We know from her record on the 2nd Court of Appeals that she's not a particularly effective colleague. I first got wind of this when Sam Alito, who was her colleague on the court while we were reviewing his record, it -- you know, people who were familiar with the workings of the court said that she was combative, opinionated, argumentative, and as a result, was not able to sort of help create a consensus opinion on important issues.

Later in the interview, host Greta Van Susteren asked, "What did Justice Alito say about working with her?" Rove replied:

Well, I'm not going to comment on what he said about her, because I didn't hear him say anything specifically about her, but when I was talking to people about the 2nd Court of Appeals -- for example, look, as you know, justices circulate opinions and -- to their colleagues to get their feedback and to act as, you know, sort of a prompt for discussions when they meet in chambers.

Well -- in conference, excuse me -- what she would do is she would mark them up like she was your English school teacher and -- with your typos and misspellings and other words that she wanted to have changed, and send them back to her colleagues -- not exactly the best way to ingratiate yourself with your colleagues.

Rove's anonymously sourced allegations follow a pattern in which media figures repeat anonymous smears about Sotomayor's temperament and intellect.

From the May 26 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

VAN SUSTEREN: Not to take away from her accomplishments and not to sort of poison the process, but to what extent the fact that she is Hispanic does this become -- you know, is this a partial political decision or a total political decision?

ROVE: Well, they clearly said that they were sensitive to the criticism that they've received from Hispanic groups for the failure of the Obama administration to make more Latino appointments. So they not only get to put -- appoint a woman, but a Latino woman, and this is obviously a political advantage to them. They've gone out of their way to emphasize that.

What's interesting to me, though, is the question of how effective she's going to be on the Supreme Court. We know that David Souter was a cipher. We know from her record on the 2nd Court of Appeals that she's not a particularly effective colleague. I first got wind of this when Sam Alito, who was her colleague on the court while we were reviewing his record, it -- you know, people who were familiar with the workings of the court said that she was combative, opinionated, argumentative, and as a result, was not able to sort of help create a consensus opinion on important issues.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it consensus opinion we're looking for or do we want some independent thought? Do we also, I mean, in an ideal situation, do we want -- also want someone who's, you know, strong in his own or his own convictions as how the law should be properly applied?

[...]

VAN SUSTEREN: What did Justice Alito say about working with her?

ROVE: Well, I'm not going to comment on what he said about her, because I didn't hear him say anything specifically about her, but when I was talking to people about the 2nd Court of Appeals -- for example, look, as you know, justices circulate opinions and -- to their colleagues to get their feedback and to act as, you know, sort of a prompt for discussions when they meet in chambers.

Well -- in conference, excuse me -- what she would do is she would mark them up like she was your English school teacher and -- with your typos and misspellings and other words that she wanted to have changed, and send them back to her colleagues -- not exactly the best way to ingratiate yourself with your colleagues. Rather than saying, "Oh, well, I thought you had an interesting legal argument here, and I'd like to talk to you more about this here." She was acting like sort of the schoolmarm.

We've gotten a taste of this in the clips that we've seen, for example, at the Duke Law Conference where she says, we write policy; we're not supposed to say it but we do write law, you know, which is not exactly how the American people view what judges ought to be about. But you get a sense of this sort of brashness that, sometimes, in the close quarters of a conference, can rub other justices the wrong way.

VAN SUSTEREN: You make me nervous about the times I correct people for grammatical errors. I'm not going to do it anymore.

ROVE: Well, you should.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to take that as a --

ROVE: No, no, no, you should. But if they're colleagues, if they're equals, I mean, you've got to be very careful about [unintelligible] getting out your red pen and marking it up like you're their English teacher.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Karl Rove
Show/Publication
On The Record with Greta Van Susteren
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