Attacking Sotomayor’s intellect

ATTACKING SOTOMAYOR’S INTELLECT…. Attacking Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor for being insufficiently right-wing makes perfect sense. Attacking her intelligence is not only ridiculous, it’s offensive.

Sotomayor, a lower-court nominee of both the H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, has a background that should shield her from such nonsense: top of her class at Princeton, Yale Law School (editor of the Yale Law Journal), successful big-city prosecutor, corporate litigator, trial judge, district court judge, appeals court judge. She’s earned the respect and admiration of her clerks, colleagues, and the lawyers who’ve argued before her. Sotomayor’s intellect is not in doubt.

And yet, it’s the issue some of the far-right’s leading activists have decided to hang their hat on.

This morning on Fox News, Karl Rove questioned whether she was smart enough to be on the Supreme Court. “I’m not really certain how intellectually strong she would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit,” he said. Citing Rosen, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes said that Sotomayor was “not the smartest.”

This is, alas, not new. Two of the guys on the National Review’s crew said Sotomayor is “dumb.” In a now-infamous piece, Jeffrey Rosen quoted unnamed sources arguing that the judge is “not that smart.” This morning, Curt Levey, executive director of the right-wing Committee for Justice, said Harriet Miers was an “intellectual lightweight” — and Sotomayor is like Miers.

Adam Serwer noted, “[T]he subtext of such arguments, which any person of color in the Ivy League has faced, is that people of color who accomplish anything resembling success are simply the undeserving recipients of preferential treatment. Note that this line of argument was raised against the president of the United States, and persisted among the right for some time. Isn’t it a funny coincidence that all accomplished people of color are secretly dumb?”

I’d just add that if Rove, Barnes, Levey and their conservative cohorts — a group that is in no position to question anyone’s intellectual prowess — have legitimate evidence to back up these doubts about the judge, they should present it. Otherwise, this entire line of attack is cheap and insulting.