Claremont Insider: Dreams of the Supremes: The Other Sonia

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dreams of the Supremes: The Other Sonia

The scrutiny of Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, begins this week with informal meetings between Sotomayor and some of the senators who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One would think that Sotomayor would have no trouble winning over the committee. She has been twice confirmed by the same committee, once in 1992 after Sotomayor was nominated to a federal judgeship by President George H. W. Bush and again in 1998 after President Bill Clinton nominated her to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District.

Still, the confirmation process, whether for the court or a even a cabinet position, can be fraught with political landmines and posturing on both sides of the aisle - just ask Robert Bork or Zoƫ Baird. There are rumors, in fact, that Sotomayor was not even President Obama's first choice. Another much less known female Hispanic officer of the court may have been interviewed for the job. Another Sonia, in fact.

That's right, the name of our own Sonia Rubio Carvalho, Claremont's City Attorney, may have surfaced briefly (very briefly) on the President's short list of candidates to the nation's highest court. True, Carvalho doesn't possess the traditional qualities that have marked past Supreme Court nominees. She hasn't served as a judge, for instance, nor has she done much in the way of legal scholarship. Then again, the U.S. Constitution doesn't list any mandatory qualifications for a Supreme Court justice, other than being nominated by the President with the Senate's advice and consent.

And, if you think about, our Sonia has ruled as if she were on the Supreme Court, providing our City Council with the legal rationale for claiming that Claremont's 2001 Measure A was unconstitutional and therefore did not need to be enforced. The anti-conflict of measure ordinance, passed by 54% of the voters, was later ruled to be constitutional and was implemented in Claremont and other cities without any problems. Carvalho is also something of an expert on First Amendment issues, as we found out a couple years ago.

If the rumors are true, Carvalho didn't survive the White House vetting process. Carvalho's uncanny ability to pick the wrong side of a constitutional argument no doubt had something to do with it. But, for a time she was at or near the top of the list, which may explain a photo that surfaced the other day, found like so many secret documents, by the buff and ripped Insider leaping into federal dumpsters in the still of the night.