Roger Pilon is the Vice President for Legal Affairs for the CATO Institute
GLENN: Roger Pilon is the vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and also director for the Center For Constitutional Studies. Roger, how are you, sir?
PILON: Well, thank you, Glenn.
GLENN: Well, tell me about Justice how do you say her name? Sotomayor?
GLENN: Tell me about her.
PILON: Well, she was a judge on the second circuit. She was before that a district court, federal district court judge named by the first George Bush, elevated to the second circuit by President Clinton, and she has a very attractive history. She came up the hard way, so to speak. Her father died when she was 9 years old. She was brought up by a single mother thereafter. She went to Princeton, went to Yale Law School and served as a U.S. attorney, assistant district attorney in New York. But there is a lot of negative as well, and it's going to come out in these hearings.
GLENN: Well, hang on. Hang on, I didn't I didn't hear really the positives there. I mean, I know she had a tough life and, boohoo, cry me a river, a lot of people had a tough life.
GLENN: And then she went to Yale and Princeton which kind of goes against the tough life thing, but maybe that's just me. What are the strengths that she has? I hate to boil it down to, you know, content of character kind of issues, but what has she done that has she done anything that is a positive when it comes to looking at the Constitution?
PILON: Well, you maybe want to rephrase that question this way: Were she not female and Hispanic, would she be nominated.
GLENN: The answer to that is no, and I know nothing about her.
PILON: That's right. And the reason is this, that the left is fairly salivating for someone who will be intellectually powerful and an effective voice against the intellectually powerful people like Antonin Scalia, John Roberts and so on.
PILON: And the question is, is she going to be this kind of person? And there is concern on the left that she will not.
GLENN: Okay, I have heard that she is, in the second court of appeals that she is almost a bully at times, that she has the image of not being that intellectually bright. I don't know if this is true or not. This is one piece of analysis that I heard today: She's not that intellectually bright and she's almost a bully. She just loves to hear herself talk.
PILON: This is widely held. You can see a piece in the New Republic on May 4th by Jeffrey Rosen, their Supreme Court correspondent, that addresses that issue, drawing from a number of Democrats who have clerked and who known her over the years. So there is that. But without question, Glenn, the case that is really going to come to the fore is this Ricci V. DeStefano and that's the New Haven firefighters case, just for your audience who may not be familiar with it. This is a case brought by Ricci and several others, white firefighters including one Hispanic, by the way, who got high marks on the exam for officer, firefighter officer. And when the results did not come out right, the city threw the test out. So Mr. Ricci brought suit. He was dyslexic. He had studied long and hard for this. He had spent a substantial amount of money getting the tests put into recorded form so that he could study for it, and he came out number 6, I believe it was, in the order and therefore was a prime candidate for elevation to an officer. The Court threw it out, and the district the district court threw it out. The appellate court, the panel on which Judge Sotomayor sat, all but dismissed the case, gave a perfunctory disposition of it. Indeed in a response to Judge Cabrenas, a colleague of Judge Sotomayor on that court, he said it contains no reference to the constitutional court to the claims of the core of this case, a perfunctory disposition, rest with the weighty issues addressed by this appeal. In other words, it was a classic affirmative action case in which she stood for affirmative action and it is going to come down from the Supreme Court next month. The oral arguments suggest that the Supreme Court is going to reverse the second circuit and so if these hearings are going to be held in July, it will be right after that decision comes down and they will be stormy hearings, I predict.
GLENN: Okay. So she was against and explain the there's some sort of law that even if this test, even if none of the questions were like are you black or are you handicapped; if so, you're out, even if there was no evidence that there was any kind of racism in this test, if the results of the test are that, hey, select group of people, whichever group that is, didn't make it into the top, then that can be deemed racist because of its effect? Is that right?
PILON: This is the way the court in effect decided it. Now, I ask you, if it had turned out that the African Americans had come out on top, the Court surely would not have sustained and the city would not have thrown out the results and, of course, if it had, the court would have found this to be a violation of equal protection. So I mean, we have we're just about as blatant a case of race discrimination as you could possibly ask for and yet she sat on this panel and found nothing wrong. There's the nub of the matter right there.
GLENN: Roger, let me ask you one more question, then I want to ask you about another big case coming out today. When she has to take the oath of office, why has no one been challenging Barack Obama when he says he wants somebody of empathy, and she's quoted in one of her lectures saying that she really, you know, she just hopes that a Latina woman with rich experience is appointed to the court, et cetera, et cetera; how come nobody is pointing out the oath that she's going to have to take, I solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge? There's no empathy in you would have to violate your own oath to be empathetic. Why is there no challenge here?
PILON: Well, there is a challenge but they are by people who are being dismissed out of hand because it's politically incorrect to raise such a challenge. That's what we've come to, Glenn. This is a Constitution that has been so politicized in recent years that it's hardly indicative of the rule of law. It is an empty vessel in which transient majorities or judges 5 4 can pour their own conception of evolving social values.
GLENN: We have the audio of her. Can we play that, Dan? We have the audio of her speaking. Now, this is recorded on videotape, et cetera, et cetera. Listen to what she says about the role of the court.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SOTOMAYOR: The role of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because it is, court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know. (Laughter). Okay. I'm not promoting it, I'm not advocating it, you know.
GLENN: Stop, stop.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN: She's clearly saying it and then trying to backpedal like, no, no, no, really, I mean, you can't I mean, this is the reality, Roger.
GLENN: What you are saying is an empty vessel, this is proof positive of it.
PILON: Absolutely. This is a wink and a nod, right, to the rule of law. It is saying in effect that we sit as one more legislative branch, making policy. And, of course, that is not what the Court is supposed to do. We call the Court the nonpolitical branch as opposed to the legislature and the executive because it is to decide cases brought before them by the law. That's why Lady Justice, Justicia is blindfolded.
GLENN: Roger, I don't know if you can answer this. When we come back you just tell me if you're not the guy to talk to on this. But the way they are going to they are going to rule today on Proposition 8 as well.
GLENN: Can you discuss that?
PILON: Well, I can, yes, but it's I can only give you the conventional wisdom on it because no one knows how the
GLENN: Right, right. But I have a question on this because there seems to be a very convenient loophole that I bet you my life the Supreme Court is going to take, and I'd love to get your opinion on it. We'll do that next.
GLENN: 888 727 BECK. Roger Pilon is with us. He's vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute. And by the way, here's the quote. Here's the quote from Sonia Sotomayor. She said, quote: I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion as a judge than a white male that hasn't lived that life. Have you ever heard anything like that, Roger, before? I mean, you know, outside of KKK rallies or, you know, Nazi party speeches.
PILON: There are judges, there are judges out there who believe that. In fact, this goes way back to the 1930s when people argued that the judges make decisions based upon what they ate for breakfast that morning. And so this is an approach that has come from the school of legal realism, as it's called, and it's been around for some time. Of course, it is not our ideal of what a judge should do, but that's why as I said before the break, we have Lady Justice with the blindfold on because she really doesn't care whether the person before her is black or white, rich or poor. Her job is to apply the law in light of the facts before her. And that is what as Chief Justice Roberts put it in his confirmation hearings, it's like an umpire. The umpire calls balls or strikes not for the home team or for the visitors but as he sees them.
GLENN: Of course that's what a white male who hasn't lived life would say.
Roger, let me go to Proposition 8. Proposition 8, as far as I'm concerned, whatever you want to do in your own bedroom is your own business. Anybody who thinks that, well, we're just going to stop this at gay marriage if the state is involved, you have no intellectual but I mean, you know, neither does Sonia what's her face. You have no intellectual honesty. If you can say, well, we're going to make an exception here but not for triads but not for polygamy or anything else. You can't change one part of it without the other. I personally think, like California be California, Utah be Utah, call it a day, let's move on.
PILON: Well, this is a complex issue that can be approached on many levels. Let's start at the most basic level. Marriage is a contract. And who's to say what contracts people can enter into of various kinds.
Now, what's the state doing involved in this contract? Well, there are complicated reasons for that. Historical, for example, then there are children involved, at least in some marriages where the state has an interest. And then, too, there is the impremateur factor and that's the really tricky issue. It's one thing if you have contracts that are just simply recognized about I the state, but the state recognition tends to impose an impremateur and that's where you get into the political difficulties because there are lots of people, as in the State of California who don't want their impremateur to be placed on the political realm on this union of same sex couples. And it came out that way when it was put to a vote not once but twice in the State of California and so now you get to the Democratic dimensions. And if the Supreme Court of California overrides again the will of the voters
GLENN: They are going to.
PILON: then there is going to be some real consternation, I predict. That's why the conventional wisdom has it that there will be kind of a split decision, that is to say they will allow the proposition to stand but they will also allow those marriages that took place before that to stand as well.
GLENN: I think they are going to go for this new argument that it has to be introduced by the legislature with 3/4 vote and then brought to the people.
PILON: I see. You think that's the route? Well, it's possible, yeah.
GLENN: You don't think so?
PILON: I don't know. I mean, the California Supreme Court
PILON: is a world all unto itself.
GLENN: If that happens and I've only got 30 seconds here. If that happens, shouldn't you go back in California and repeal every constitutional amendment that hasn't been done exactly that way?
PILON: Well, one would think that that would follow. But Glenn, let me tell you. The same sex marriage issue is the least of the problems in California today.
GLENN: I mean, it's just, it's really ridiculous. I mean, it really is. Like, "So North Korea's testing nukes. Hey, who won on American Idol?" Maybe that's just me. Roger, thank you so much, sir.
PILON: You're quite welcome.