Sotomayor answers questions

July 14, 2009 1:48:11 PM PDT
Are you watching the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings? Her image is everywhere, sitting there testifying, as she tries to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Should race matter here? Of course it should. Of course it shouldn't.

It has to. And it can't.

Such are the conundrums facing the Senators of the Judiciary (who, have you noticed, are all white).

There's little question that the Bronx native, pending some political or personal implosion, will be confirmed.

No matter what anyone says, the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is a highly political act. It comes from the most political of all elected officials ? the President. When people elect a President, they also elect the one who gets to choose members of the high court.

So unless there's some huge flag or scandal or outrageous viewpoints (think Robert Bork), the nominee is typically confirmed.

Oh the Senators may attempt to show off their law degrees and ask all sorts of questions about complicated land use issues and legal interpretations. But barring some bombshell, the confirmation hearings are a bit too pro forma, at least from my perch.

Still, they're fascinating looks at people who could stay on the job for decades ? and they usually do more public talking during their confirmation hearing than they do through their tenures.

N.J. Burkett is in Washington for us, covering the hearing. He'll file his report for the 11 p.m. newscast.

Also at 11, hey how about that Goldman Sachs. Say what you will about these men and women, they know how to make money. Right or wrong.

The number-one investment firm got a $10 billion bailout from the taxpayers in October. Eight months later, the money's been paid back, with interest, as the "bank" turned in better-than-expected earnings.

Can it continue to produce? That's uncertain. The hard truth is that this company turned large profits by trading for institutional clients during a time when the markets were rebounding from deep lows. In fact, of the nearly $14 billion in Goldman revenues this second quarter, nearly $11 billion of it came from trading.

It's a lesson for all those who sought shelter away from the market ? those who take risks, get rewards. Right or wrong.

Speaking of money, how you perceive spending it depends on your own political perspective.

For example, New York Mayor Bloomberg gets his name in the headlines twice today. First he got ticked off at Hillary Clinton's decision to exempt from taxes foreign diplomatic buildings in New York City. That will cost New York about $260 million in lost real estate taxes.

Secretary of State Clinton made the ruling because if those foreign buildings had been taxed, those countries were considering, in retaliation, taxing U.S. embassies abroad. That would have cost taxpayers billions.

Exhibit B in the it's-how-you-look-at-it argument: When she was Senator, Mrs. Clinton argued that those foreign governments should pay taxes to New York!

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg saw no problem -- during a recession and with so many New Yorkers out of work or working for the same or less money than before ? giving raises to several of his senior aides at City Hall. In fact, nearly 6,700 City managers got raises ? which will cost taxpayers $45 million this year.

Go figure. The only guy raising this issue is the man trying to take the Mayor's job ? City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

And we're following developments at Kennedy Airport, where two workers were apparently caught red-handed stealing a laptop and a cell phone from luggage. We'll have the latest, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Jessica Taff (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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