Laurence Tribe told Obama: Sotomayor is “not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is”

Ed Whelan writes at the Corner, October 28:

I’ve obtained a copy of an interesting letter that Harvard law professor Larry [sic] Tribe wrote to his prot´g´, President Barack Obama, in the immediate aftermath of Justice Souter’s announcement of his decision to retire from the Court. I will post a PDF of the letter shortly. [Update: Here’s the letter.] In the meantime, I’ll call attention, in this post and two or three others, to some of its highlights.

The express purpose of Tribe’s letter is to urge that Obama nominate Elena Kagan to the Souter vacancy. But before making his affirmative case for Kagan, Tribe argues strongly against the alternative of nominating Sonia Sotomayor:

Bluntly put, she’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, and her reputation for being something of a bully could well make her liberal impulses backfire and simply add to the fire power of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas wing of the Court on issues like those involved in the voting rights case argued last week and the Title VII case of the New Haven firefighters argued earlier, issues on which Kennedy will probably vote with Roberts despite Souter’s influence but on which I don’t regard Kennedy as a lost cause for the decade or so that he is likely to remain on the Court.

Tribe then discusses possible candidates for a future Stevens vacancy and pointedly doesn’t mention Sotomayor even for that vacancy.

It’s perhaps a tribute to Tribe’s, er …, deftness that, as soon as Obama nominated Sotomayor, a New York Times article gave the impression that he had supported her selection:

Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard law professor who served as an adviser in the process that led to Judge Sotomayor’s selection for the Supreme Court, said the White House had found concerns about her temperament unfounded, concluding instead that her background and her concern with the consequences of court rulings would be a “healthy antidote” to more formalist legal theories advocated by the Supreme Court’s conservative wing.

“The president’s inquiries into the way she interacts with others,” Professor Tribe said, “convinced him that she would be a positive force in the chemistry of the Supreme Court.”

Translation of this last sentence: “I couldn’t persuade Obama not to pick her.”

LA adds:

Thus we learn that Tribe has agreed all along with VFR’s nickname for Sotomayor: So-so-minor. Imagine how this secular Jewish Harvard law professor, for the last 20 years probably the best known, and certainly the most self-promoting, liberal law professor in the country, who has always felt that he belongs on the Supreme Court, feels on seeing this intellectual sub-mediocrity being picked instead of himself for the Court for no other reason than that she’s Hispanic. Did it lead him to question the liberal sacred dogma of proportional representation of all nonwhite ethnic groups and of the sexes in the leading ranks of society? I doubt it. He’s too much of an apparatchik. In his heart of hearts, Tribe is like the loyal Bolshevik protaganist of Arthur Koestler’s great 1940 novel, Darkness at Noon: falsely accused by Stalin of treason, in the end he gladly accepts his own execution, out of love for the Communist cause.

- end of initial entry -

James N. writes:

Subject: Tribe, the tribe, and who’s so smart?

The first rule of fight club is, you don’t talk about fight club.

The first rule of overseers of Affirmative Action is, you don’t talk about the intellectual stature of our little brown brothers and sisters who benefit. Instead, you make up stories about multiple types of intelligence, or the benefits of being a wise Latina (you don’t think So-so-minor came up with that on her own, do you?).

If you shut up about it, and in fact pretend that So-so-minor is qualified to be a lawyer, never mind to sit on the Supreme Court, or if you pretend that a socially-gifted mulatto belongs at Harvard Law—no, belongs as editor of the Law Review—then the third-world masses will leave you alone, and you may even get some goodies.

Poor Tribe—he really stepped in it with that letter! Obama, reading between the lines, knows Tribe is on to him. Tribe has revealed the truth—that he can see that a disadvantaged minority member lacks the intelligence to serve at a high level. This must never, never be spoken of.

And then—to declare in one breath that the wise Latina is not so wise, but that a fellow tribesperson (Kagan) would do just fine—even Obama is not THAT stupid.

Obama hates Jews. That’s obvious. He can use them to further his goals, as long as they clearly understand the rules. Obama appoint Tribe to the Supreme Court? After THAT letter?

Don’t make me laugh.

Bluntly put—maybe Tribe isn’t as smart as he seems to think he is. He broke a rule which must never be broken.

Obama will henceforth have similar feelings towards Tribe as he does towards THE tribe—and that ain’t good.

LA replies:

This is funny, but a couple of qualifications.

First, I was probably wrong when I said that Tribe has the ambition to be on Court and was personally frustrated at not being chosen. I think he accepted years ago that he is too well known and too controversial to be nominated. Also, he’s probably well into his sixties now, and presidents like to pick justices in their forties and fifties so that they will serve for a long time.

Second, I don’t see evidence that Obama hates Jews, or, rather, that he does so any more than any other pro-Muslim, anti-Israel leftist.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 29, 2010 06:00 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):