By Howard M. Wasserman, Associate Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law
In no particular order, some final thoughts on the Sotomayor hearings. Start with the obvious: There will not be a filibuster and she will be confirmed handily (65-67 votes).
First, what are the chances that some GOP House member (likely a far-right backbencher looking to make a name for himself) argues that the House should impeach Justice Sotomayor? Might it happen just after she writes an opinion (probably within the next two years) that cites to foreign or international law or that supports an affirmative action program or that refuses to recuse from the non-Maloney Second Amendment incorporation case? This seems like the next step in the evolution of nasty confirmation politics. The hearings no longer provide any check on the President’s appointment authority; after Bork (and to a lesser extent Thomas), no nominee ever says anything beyond the sorts of bland platitudes we heard from Roberts and now Sotomayor; no one will say anything controversial (or meaningful) enough to give a critical mass of Senators (including Senators from the nominating President’s party) grounds to vote against her. And getting "tough" (or nasty) in questioning has become popularly counter-productive--as Republicans saw this week and as Democrats saw in 2005.