Weirdest Sotomayor Endorsement Ever

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The White House is in hard-sell mode. It’s been pushing the case for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. It held a conference call on Wednesday for White House correspondents, during which various legal scholars praised her “judicial modesty.” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has been deriding rightwing opposition at his daily briefings. And his press shop has been emailing reporters various statements supportive of Sotomayor–including what could be one of the oddest endorsements to be circulated by a White House in recent years. Or ever.

One email from the White House listed a slew of positive comments about Sotomayor. They came from former and current judges who have worked with her, Republican Senator Olympia Snow (who has called the nominee “well qualified”), New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, a bunch of legal scholars, and Larry Klayman. Yes, Larry Klayman. Ring a bell? He’s best known–or infamous–for having been an overly litigious conservative crusader who, through his Judicial Watch outfit, hurled numerous lawsuits against Clintonites during the 1990s.

Klayman was no average self-proclaimed rightwing avenger. He came across to many as–how to say this politely and non-libelously?–bonkers. During a 1998 family spat, he sued his mother. Financed by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, he pursued numerous Clinton-related targets. He represented Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton, when Flowers sued Hillary Clinton, charging HRC had tried to destroy her. (He also sued Vice President Dick Cheney for not releasing the records of his energy task force.) While running for the Senate in 2004 in Florida–quite unsuccessfully–Klayman engaged in a million-dollar scheme that seemed designed to skirt campaign-finance law. At one point, he blamed years of bad press on a gang of Jewish journalists–including Jacob Weisberg, Frank Rich, and me. He accused us of having written negative stories about him because “as a Jew who believes in Christ” he was “a threat to the liberal Jewish creed, a kosher Uncle Tom.” (For the record, I had no idea he was Jewish, Christian, or a hybrid.) One Weisberg article on Klayman in Slate was headlined “Nut Watch.”

But now Klayman is just jake with the Obama White House. In addition to touting the comments of those highly credentialed Sotomayor advocates, the White House is making use of Klayman’s support of Sotomayor. That email cites a Klayman statement–which the White House noted that it had received via an email from NBC correspondent Chuck Todd–in which the former Clinton-chaser says,

While I would have liked to see a more conservative libertarian type on the high court, President Obama’s selection of New York federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayer, was a very prudent and wise decision from a far left liberal like Obama. Having initially been appointed to the bench by President George H. W. Bush, soon to be justice Sotomayer has previously pledged to follow the Constitution, and not legislate from the bench, and her career as a federal court judge suggests, as a whole, that this is the way she will administer to the law. It is also great to have a highly qualified Latina on the bench. The Latin culture, with its emphasis on family and family values, will be a welcome addition, as an understanding of real life relationships is important for any jurist.

While Judicial Watch–which Klayman left in 2003 (in a not-so-amicable separation)–opposes Sotomayor, Klayman wishes her “much success.”

The Obama White House certainly likes to transcend ideology and partisanship. Hooking up with Klayman is taking this to a new–and bizarre–level.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend