‘Mostly harmless.’

That’s Ben Domenech’s two-word assessment of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice:

This is worth noting: given the chance to select Diane Wood, a brilliant legal voice and a hardened defender of unrestricted abortion rights, Obama went for the personal story that would appeal to the media instead, disappointing once again some of his supporters. It is possible, yes, that Sotomayor is personally an abortion centrist. But the pro- and anti-abortion groups should fall in normal lines on this nominee — her decisions in favor of anti-abortion policies weren’t based on opposition to Roe, and in viewing the entirety of her background, Sotomayor gives no signs of being a stealth nominee for the pro-life cause.

This is what it all comes down to, in fact. As John Yoo notes, Sotomayor gives no signs of being a threat or an asset to any particular cause. It’s unlikely that she’ll be further left than the man she’s replacing, and if she has the gift for motivating or shifting her fellow justices, she hasn’t displayed it on the Second Circuit, where even after 17 years, no one regards her as a leader. She is, in other words, unlikely to shift the Supreme Court in any direction, to any significant degree, from where it was before her arrival.

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