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Anatomy Of A Sotomayor SCOTUS Whisper Campaign

What remains unclear is what, precisely, has animated the whisper campaign. Glenn Greenwald raised one intriguing suggestion:

Jeffrey Rosen's brother-in-law is Neal Katyal, the current Deputy Solicitor General in the Obama administration. If Sotomayor's prospects are torpedoed, that could clear the way for one of the other leading candidates to be named to the Court: current Solicitor General Elena Kagan. The selection of Kagan (rather than Sotomayor) would almost certainly result in Rosen's brother-in-law (Katyal) becoming Solicitor General. Additionally, Katyal himself was once a clerk for a Second Circuit judge, obviously raising the question of whether he was one of the anonymous sources for his brother-in-law's hit piece disparaging Sotomayor's intellect and character.

But Katyal served as a clerk on the Second Circuit in 1995 and 1996, two years before Sotomayor was belatedly confirmed to the court on October 2, 1998 by a Republican-controlled Senate. I spoke to Rosen by phone today, and he characterized things differently from Greenwald. He says Katyal was not one of his sources. He confirmed that a number of people--former clerks and federal prosecutors--approached him in a span of about two weeks, each voicing similar concerns about Sotomayor's temperament and fitness. He says that they were nearly all Democrats and doubts that they were animated by any ulterior motives. But, he says, he will soon be addressing the controversy on The New Republic's website, and we'll bring that to you when it goes live.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com