Early Smears On Sotomayor: ‘Dumb,’ ‘Bully,’ ‘Doesn’t Play Well With Others,’ ‘Obnoxious’

One of the candidates rumored to be President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is Sonia Sotomayor, currently a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Sotomayor, however, has come under attack this week, with many commentators claiming she is lazy and unqualified to serve on the highest court.

The origin seems to be with GW Law professor Jeffrey Rosen’s New Republic article this week. Quoting several anonymous sources, Rosen argued, “The most consistent concern [from former clerks] was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was ‘not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench.’” Soon afterwards, the meme went viral:

Mark Hemingway: “Judge Sotomayor may indeed be dumb and obnoxious; but she’s also female and Hispanic, and those are the things that count nowadays.”

“Conservative politico” likely working on the nomination: “Substantial questions also persist regarding Judge Sotomayor’s temperament and disposition to be a Supreme Court justice. Lawyers who have appeared before her have described her as a ‘bully’ who ‘does not have a very good temperament’ and who ‘abuses lawyers’ with “inappropriate outbursts.’”

Marc Ambinder: “And the respectable intellectual center — see Jeffrey Rosen’s case against her temperament and inherent intellectual abilities — is beginning to have doubts.”

Jake Tapper: “Many others in the mainstream media take what Rosen has to say quite seriously.”

On Tuesday, Fox News’s Andrew Napolitano claimed on his radio show that Sotomayor “has a reputation for not being a very hard worker.” Listen to it:

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The meme has now reached the mainstream media. In a news article yesterday, the Washington Post quotes “some lawyers who have practiced before her” complaining of “a domineering presence on the bench.” A “lawyer who has been consulted on the Obama selection process…said Sotomayor may have to overcome a perception that she ‘doesn’t play well with others.’” Today, the Post publishes a more laudatory article about Sotomayor — with no anonymous quotes.


Others in the mainstream media — like Mark Halperin and Richard Cohen — have indirectly claimed that Sotomayor and other candidates are only being considered because of their minority heritage.

The White House has not confirmed that Sotomayor is a leading candidate for the position, or even a candidate at all. Yet, the conventional wisdom — as dictated by the media and the “respectable intellectual center” — already is baselessly defining her.


Brian Beutler has more on the Sotomayor smear campaign.