Harry Reid says he’s never read one of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions and hopes he never does. But she’s a great choice anyway! Conor Friedersdorf laments:
Unsurprising but depressing! As Gene Healy’s cult of the presidency continues apace, it is equally remarkable that the legislative branch so often seems unable or unwilling to carry out basic functions [prescribed] by the Constitution. This is a lifetime appointment! And Harry Reid feels comfortable consenting to it having read less of Judge Sotomayor’s work than I have?
Is this fair? It seems to me that judicial opinions are generally pretty technical pieces of work that are hard to analyze without a fair amount of relevant expertise — and that’s true even for someone like Reid, who has a law degree. Most of us, then, as we do with other technical subjects, primarily rely on the judgment of legal experts rather than fruitlessly trying to read the primary literature in order to develop our own amateur conclusions. Senators, who deal with hundreds of different topics and are accustomed to relying on their staffs to provide expert analysis, probably do this even more than most of us.
When senators decline to read reports on big issues that are specifically written to be understood by laymen, they deserve some flack. But not here. I don’t think Reid is doing anything unreasonable.