The limits of scrutiny

THE LIMITS OF SCRUTINY…. When I first saw this report yesterday, I sincerely thought it was a joke.

Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ feet with chickpeas — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn’t certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

First, that’s not a good translation of the Puerto Rican dishes. (Update: The original article included a bad translation. The above reflects the corrected language.)

Second, The Hill‘s Alexander Bolton, who wrote the report, said some conservatives really are scrutinizing the connection between Sotomayor’s favorite dishes and her judicial responsibilities.

[Bolton] confirmed, saying, “a source I spoke to said people were discussing that her [speech] had brought attention…she intimates that what she eats somehow helps her decide cases better.”

Bolton said the source was drawing, “a deductive link,” between Sotomayor’s thoughts on Puerto Rican food and her other statements. And I guess the chain goes something like this: 1). Sotomayor implied that her Latina identity informs her jurisprudence, 2). She also implied that Puerto Rican cuisine is a crucial part of her Latina identity, 3). Ergo, her gastronomical proclivities will be a non-negligible factor for her when she’s considering cases before the Supreme Court.

I realize the right hasn’t launched a serious campaign against a Democratic president’s Supreme Court nominee in the modern political era, so conservatives are a little out of practice. But once they start over-thinking the nominee’s favorite meals, it’s clear a few too many on the right have gone from zero to hysterical in less than 48 hours.