NYT Warns GOP: Don't Challenge Obama's Supreme Court Pick

Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney plays the ethnicity card, suggesting Republicans would be wise to let Judge Sonia Sotomayor be confirmed without putting up a fight or risk "doom[ing] themselves to long-term minority status."

On Tuesday morning, President Obama announced his nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court - U.S. Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York State, who would be the first Hispanic to serve on the nation's highest court.

Liberal legal reporter Neil Lewis's Tuesday afternoon filing at nytimes.com, "'Kid From the Bronx' With Hopes and Doubts," covered little new ground from his previous fawning profile of May 14 in which he termed Sotomayor "baseball's savior" for ruling against Major League Baseball's owners during the 1995 players' strike.

Sonia Sotomayor, who would be the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice, brings to the confirmation experience the kind of rich personal story that has always been deeply gratifying to Americans, the journey from humble beginnings to a respected position of great influence.

As she was presented by President Obama at the White House on Tuesday morning, she referred to herself as "a kid from the Bronx." But it was Mr. Obama who provided many details of her history as a child of a city housing project who lost her father at an early age and saw her mother work two jobs to put her and her brother through professional schools.

As in Lewis's previous profile of Sotomayor, he failed to label her as liberal, even while citing cases like the baseball strike and an affirmative action case in which she came down on the liberal side.

Meanwhile, chief political reporter Adam Nagourney played the ethnicity card in a Tuesday afternoon post on the paper's "Caucus" blog, suggesting Republican opposition would be risky,even fatal,considering the party's low status among Hispanics.

President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has put the Republican Party in a bind, as it weighs the cost of aggressively opposing Mr. Obama's attempt to put the first Hispanic on the high court at a time when the party has struggled with sharp setbacks in its effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.

The Republican Party has been embroiled in a public argument over whether to tend to the ideological interests of its conservative base or to expand its appeal to a wider variety of voters in order to regain its strength following the defeats of 2008. Many conservatives came out fiercely against Ms. Sotomayor as soon her name was announced, denouncing her as liberal and promising Mr. Obama a tough nomination fight.


But some Republicans warned that the image of Republicans throwing a roadblock before an historic nomination could prove politically devastating. Republicans saw a dip in Hispanic support in 2008, after eight years in which former President George. W. Bush and his political aides had made a concerted effort to increase the Republican appeal to Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing group of voters.

"If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff," said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to Mr. Bush and a long-time advocate of expanding the party's appeal. "Death will not be assured. But major injury will be."

Nagourney cited former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd telling the party to roll over for the nomination and not even think about opposition. In Nagourney's paraphrase, Dowd warned "Republicans could doom themselves to long-term minority status if they are perceived as preventing Ms. Sotomayor from becoming a judge. He argued that the party could not even be seen as threatening a filibuster."

Isn't Sotomayor already a judge?