NPR’s Totenberg: Sotomayor More Conservative than Scalia

July 14th, 2009 5:56 PM

NPR’s Nina Totenberg apparently needs to brush up on her knowledge of judicial philosophy and American jurisprudence. On the July 13 edition of “Charlie Rose,” Totenberg told Charlie Rose that Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor has “a pretty conservative record.” There are many words and phrases that could be used to accurately describe Sotamayor: intelligent, successful, to name a few. But conservative?

[Audio here]

Totenberg went on to tell Rose that Sotomayor’s record is “very much in the mainstream,” and that “you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia, perhaps.” Judge Sotomayor’s decision to uphold the New Haven firefighter case, Ricci v. DeStefano, which was overruled by the High Court this May, and whose majority included all four of the “conservative” justices, clearly illustrates that Sotomayor is in no way, shape, or form a conservative.

During the 2005 confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts, Totenberg made it a point on multiple occasions to remind everyone that he was a “very, very, conservative man,” in order to paint him as a right-wing enthusiast whose judicial philosophy was out of the mainstream. 

People who know him know that John Roberts is a really conservative guy....Don’t forget his wife was an officer, a high officer of a pro-life organization. He’s got adopted children. I mean, he’s a conservative Catholic....a hardline conservative.

Now in a very weak attempt to assure people that Sotomayor is in the mainstream realm of legal thinking and not a far-left judicial activist, Totenberg labels the Obama nominee “more conservative than Justice Scalia.” Interesting how a Democratic president and a liberal nominee can make Totenberg sing a different tune.   

The following exchange was aired on the July 13 edition of PBS' "Charlie Rose" show:

CHARLIE ROSE, host: Can you get away with that if you've got the kind of judicial record she has? I mean, this is not coming with a clean slate.

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: You know, for a Democrat, she has a pretty conservative record, a very much in the mainstream record. They don't have -- in fact, on a lot of criminal law issues, you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia, perhaps. So I think that's why they're hooking so much on her speeches, on what they view as racial identity politics. A little bit the firefighters' decision. And the Judiciary Committee, let's face it, it's like a dysfunctional family, they are fighting, last ten fights they had and the rest of the world doesn't know what they're talking about.