Today I Learned…

…about Sonia Sotomayor.  The following is a quote from the October issue of Esquire, which I bought because it has a super-cool electronic ink cover.  It’s their 75th anniversary issue, and the main article profiles their list of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century.

If Obama becomes president, his first nominee to the Supreme Court will likely be Sonia Sotomayor.  As a Hispanic woman with 16 years of court experience, Sotomayor would slay two of the court’s lack-of-diversity birds with one swift stone.  “These are criteria that matter these days.  Even Laura Bush was disappointed that her husband didn’t name a woman toreplace Sandra Day O’Connor,” says Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard.  And because Sotomayor has a reputation for staying behind the scenes and sits on a federal bench known for its centrism, it’s likely that she would be able to garner a two-thirds majority in the Senate, even if the Democrats only control an estimated 55 or so seats.  Plus there’s an insurance measure if the nomination gets too politicized publically: Sotomayor was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush.  Says Tushmet, “If you’re a Democratic strategist, you can gin up ads that say, ‘She was good enough for George H. W. Bush.  Why isn’t she good enough for Mitch McConnell?'”

In her rulings, Sotomayor has often shown suspicion of bloated government and corporate power.  She’s offered a reinterpretation of copyright law, ruled in favor of public access to private information, and in her most famous decision, sided with labor in the Major League Baseball strike of 1995.  More than anything else, she is seen as a realist.  With a likely 20 years ahead on the bench, she’ll have plenty of time to impart her realist philosophy.

Today I Learned…

…that the legislation proposed to oversee the $700B-plus bailout for Wall Street includes the following language:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

“May not be reviewed by any court of law?!?!?!?”  This would make Secretary Paulson a de facto financial dictator.  I have no confidence in Congress to do anything about this, and the Supremes certainly won’t (even though this is a direct usurpation of their Constitutional authority — hell, their reason for existing!).  WTF?

Today I Learned…

…that apparently only two women have won sexual harassment cases in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, and judges like this one (change.org) are probably a good part of the reason why.

A female advertising executive from St. Petersburg recently sued her employer for sexual harassment and lost — the “judge” “ruled” that sexual advances in the workplace were necessary for the continuation of the human race.  “If we had no sexual harassment, we would have no children,” said the “jurist”.

One hundred percent of those women polled in a recent Russian survey reported that they had been sexually harassed by their superiors at work, 32 percent said that they had intercourse with their boss, and 7 percent reported rape.