Politico: White House to Sonia Sotomayor critics: Be ‘careful’

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pointed warning to opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination Wednesday, urging critics to measure their words carefully during a politically charged confirmation debate.

“I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they’ve decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation,” Gibbs said.

AllahPundit asks,

Imagine the nutroots pathos had a Republican press secretary dropped this on them.

Imagine indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s bad advice. I happen to agree with Gibbs. Be careful GOP senators! You wouldn’t want to come across as mean, bitter, nasty partisan hacks. Let’s take a trip down memory lane all the way back to the most recent vacancy for the Supreme Court. How did these thoughtful, restrained, decent and respectful Democrats treat Samuel Alito?

Ted Kennedy ,

In case after case, Judge Alito’s decisions demonstrate a systematic tilt toward powerful institutions and against individuals attempting to vindicate their rights. How can a clear record like that possibly justify a lifetime position on the Supreme Court?

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA),

In Judge Alito we see patterns, patterns which demonstrate a hostility to the disadvantaged and the poor.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Like Rosa Parks, Judge Alito will be able to change history by virtue of where he sits. The real question today is whether Judge Alito would use his seat on the bench, just as Rosa Parks used her seat on the bus, to change history for the better or whether he would use that seat to reverse much of what Rosa Parks and so many others fought so hard and for so long to put in place.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

More broadly, Judge Alito’s record and his missed opportunities during the hearing to answer concerns about his record leave me wondering whether he appreciates the role of the Supreme Court as a protector of Americans’ fundamental rights and liberties. He has failed the test…Judge Alito’s record and testimony demonstrate that he does not understand the vital role of the courts in implementing the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and equal dignity for all Americans.

Republicans will question Judge Sotomayor’s record and criticize her philosophy but they will not savage her personally. She is no further left than Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ginsberg was confirmed 96-3. That’s how it is supposed to work.

Democrats, they want it every way. They attack and then call for restraint. They implore “fair-minded” and “reasonable” questions and then accuse the nominee of being racist. They behave exactly like they warn the Republican not to act like. They are hypocrites. And let’s not kid ourselves that this is a recent phenomenon.

Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on Robert Bork’s America

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is — and is often the only — protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy….

…President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of American. No justice would be better than this injustice.

So there you have it GOP. Don’t be them. Take their advice.

And no, Newt, Rush and Coulter’s criticism of Sotomayor is not proof of the GOP doing what Democrats do. They are all pundits, not elected politicians. Every Democrat quoted above served on the Judiciary Committee, so please, spare me.

UPDATE: I was wrong about Kerry being on the Judiciary committee. I think. I can’t find any reference to him being on it. Kennedy, Leahy and Schumer were all on the Alito Judiciary committee.

UPDATE II: Krauthammer is exactly right. Republicans should use the confirmation as a teaching moment, then confirm her.

Since the 2008 election, people have been asking what conservatism stands for. Well, if nothing else, it stands unequivocally against justice as empathy — and unequivocally for the principle of blind justice.

Empathy is a vital virtue to be exercised in private life — through charity, respect and loving kindness — and in the legislative life of a society where the consequences of any law matter greatly, which is why income taxes are progressive and safety nets are built for the poor and disadvantaged.

But all that stops at the courthouse door. Figuratively and literally, justice wears a blindfold. It cannot be a respecter of persons. Everyone must stand equally before the law, black or white, rich or poor, advantaged or not.

…Make the case for individual vs. group rights, for justice vs. empathy. Then vote to confirm Sotomayor solely on the grounds — consistently violated by the Democrats, including Sen. Obama — that a president is entitled to deference on his Supreme Court nominees, particularly one who so thoroughly reflects the mainstream views of the winning party. Elections have consequences.

Vote Democratic and you get mainstream liberalism: a judicially mandated racial spoils system and a jurisprudence of empathy that hinges on which litigant is less “advantaged.”

A teaching moment, as liberals like to say. Clarifying and politically potent. Seize it.