Yesterday, The Washington Post
's Dan Balz and Robert Barnes teamed up
to pass on anonymous criticism of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who President Obama may nominate to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. In what has become something of a sport in political media these days, the two wrote that "Some say...she has not distinguished herself on the appeals court."
Today, Barnes collaborates
with the Post
's Robert Shear to report that Sotomayor has "already has felt the glare that comes with being identified as a front-runner, with several unflattering profiles about her temperament and judicial accomplishments."
As we noted in our anatomy of the whisper campaign
, these doubts, such as they are, have their roots in a New Republic article
by the magazine's legal correspondent Jeffrey Rosen. That piece contains no concrete examples of Sotomayor's supposedly unsuitable temperament, and, if anything, implies a high level of judicial accomplishment. But it does
contain several anonymous quotes, and oblique references to other unquoted criticisms of the second-circuit jurist. And, as such, it has served as the fountainhead for a spate of articles implying that the objection to her potential candidacy is legitimate and well-sourced, when, in fact, it isn't.
As the article suggests, Sotomayor was criticized in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary
, (at least, more so than were two of her reported competitors, Diane Wood and Ann Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit). But that criticism, too, was anonymous, and the Almanac ultimately concluded
that "most of lawyers interviewed said Sotomayor has good legal ability," and "lawyers said Sotomayor is very active and well-prepared at oral argument."