President Obama’s Argument for Bipartisan Support for the Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor

A few days ago, President Obama announced his first nominee for Supreme Court Justice. Among the various tools the President has used to get his message out is his website, where a 4-minute video announcement is posted here. I encourage you to view this video. I also encourage you to think carefully about what the President says at each stage in his announcement.

Here’s a specific question to consider:

  • Can you identify President Obama’s argument that Sonia Sotomayor should be a bipartisan slam dunk for confirmation by the Congress?

He makes an argument toward the end of his speech. He doesn’t say, “Let me give you a good argument for this.” But he does make an argument. If we’re paying attention, we’ll recognize the argument. And if we’re critically engaged, we’ll make a sober judgment about the plausibility of his argument.

So the second question I have for you is:

  • Does the President make a good argument that Sonia Sotomayor should be a bipartisan slam dunk for confirmation by the Congress?

These questions are rooted in my goal to encourage greater understanding of media messages—whether from the President, or anyone else.

By greater understanding I mean deeper awareness of what the message is and whether that message is reasonable. The President’s speech, because it is addressed to ordinary citizens and because it can be viewed very conveniently online, presents us with a great opportunity to hone the skills needed to be responsible citizens of a fragile democracy.

Book Recommendations:

If you have any questions about these recommendations, please use the comment box below.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

3 Responses to President Obama’s Argument for Bipartisan Support for the Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Glad you’ve joined the discussion!

    Like

  2. My partner and I completely figured elsewhere just how to post! In any event, decent blog page and bookmarked yah for so next moment.

    Like

  3. Alex says:

    Doug,
    Obama seemed to argue:
    1. There are three criteria (mastery of law, recognition of duty to impartially interpret, not make, law, “common touch, sense of compassion”) for a what makes a good SC justice good qua SC justice
    2. Sotomayor has extensive experience in judging law, comparatively more experience than others who became SC justices, and specifically unique experience compared to other justices.
    3. Sotomayor has an inspiring life-story
    4. A Republican and an Democrat appointed her, at different times to different positions.
    5. The U.S. senate confirmed her (in these other appointments)
    6. Therefore, she meets the three criteria.

    Obama did not say how 2,3,4,5 satisfy the criteria. We can fill in those gaps, perhaps; e.g., experience = (good indication of) mastery and (good indication of) recognition of duty to impartially interpret, inspiring life-story = ‘common touch, compassion’

    I am not sure those gaps can be filled like that. Furthermore, I’m not sure how 4 and 5 show us t
    hat those criteria, some or all, are satisfied.

    Lastly, I don’t know why the third criteria is included, it could be construed as conflicting with the second. Perhaps he only meant, “has the virtue of prudence”.

    My grade for the argument:
    C

    Without saying how her experience indicates the first two criteria are satisfied, I have no reason to believe her experience was used by her to master the law and fulfill her duty as an impartial interpreter of the law.

    Like

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