Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Sotomayor hearings: One question the senators did not ask — how's her health?

In all the questioning of Sonia Sotomayor, there was no discussion of one of the more interesting aspects of her nomination: She may be the first person named to the court in recent times with a known, serious chronic illness such as diabetes.

One legal historian said the last such nomination he could immediately remember was Edwin M. Stanton, who was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869 despite severe heart problems and asthma. He was confirmed but died before he could take his seat.

When she was diagnosed at age 8, Sotomayor’s life expectancy was expected to be seriously curtailed by the disease. Friends have said that diagnosis helped motivate her to accomplish big things early in life. Improvements in modern medicine have changed the outlook for those with diabetes. But for the last 47 years, Sotomayor has had to inject herself daily with insulin, knowing that if she did not maintain the right blood sugar level it could eventually be fatal.

Beyond this unusual life story of someone with what could be considered a serious disability making it to the threshold of the highest court, there is an interesting political story also simmering below the surface.
For at least the last two decades, one of the primary considerations in choosing a nominee, particularly for Republicans, has been the nominee's potential longevity on the court.

Clarence Thomas was but a sapling when he was nominated at age 43 in 1991. Chief Justice John Roberts was 50, while Samuel Alito was practically elderly at 55.

It has been less of a concern for Democrats, though even for them, anyone older than 60 seems to have been verboten. Of their last three nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 60, followed by Stephen Breyer, who was 55. Sotomayor is 55.

Based on age alone, the Republican nominees might serve on the court 22 more years than the Democrats. Depending on how future presidential elections go, that could make a huge difference on key issues such as abortion for a long time to come.

But with the nomination of Sotomayor, age alone may not be the only factor. Diabetes experts say that advances in the treatment of Type I diabetes mean that a victim of the disease can live to an advanced age if he or she manages blood sugar level well, and Sotomayor’s doctor says she has managed extremely well. But other experts say privately that it is almost impossible to manage perfectly.

It is unlikely, experts say, that Sotomayor will have the longevity of someone such as Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89 and has been on the court for 34 years. Sotomayor’s seat could more quickly be filled by a Republican than someone without a chronic illness.

But other experts on the disease say it will be a valuable thing to have the perspective of such a person on the court. In 1999 the court decided that workers with treatable medical conditions, such as diabetes, were not disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore could be fired because of their medical problems. The decision provoked an outcry, and last year Congress changed the law to protect people like Sotomayor.

-- Timothy M. Phelps

The Ticket goes inside politics several times a day. Click here for Twitter alerts. Or follow us    @latimestot

 
Comments () | Archives (2)

The comments to this entry are closed.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR SHALL BE AN ASSET TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT.

SOTOMAYOR IS BRILLIANT.
_____________________
SCANDALS! SCANDALS! SCANDALS!

DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

GEORGE W. BUSH IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CRIMINAL STALKER!

“In her suit, Margie Schoedinger states that George W. Bush committed sexual crimes against her, organized harassment and moral pressure on her, her family members and close relatives and friends. As Schoedinger said, she was strongly recommended to keep her mouth shut. . . . Furthermore, she alleges that George Bush ordered to show pressure on her to the point, when she commits suicide” (go to Google, type “blog of drizzten Margie Schoedinger,” and hit “Enter”).

“George [Bush is personally complicit] in the death (murder to be precise) of my friend Margie Schoedinger in September of 2003. Determining the exact whereabouts and contacts of . . . George Bush on September 21 thru 22, 2003, should be entirely lacking in difficulty” (Leola McConnell—Nevada Progressive Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010).

McConnell is correct: Bush applying pressure (continuously criminally stalking Margie Schoedinger) purposefully to force Schoedinger to commit suicide does in fact constitute murder where it culminated in her death.

Bush’s method of murdering Schoedinger cannot exist in a vacuum: he must have murdered other people in the same way.

During Bush’s presidency, of course Bush would have desired to kill people whom he hated or get them out of his way. Insofar as Bush was clearly capable of murdering Schoedinger—even in “broad daylight”—and is clearly capable of getting away with it, in consideration of common sense and the laws of human nature, Bush of course murdered numerous people in the disgusting way he murdered Schoedinger. One can examine public information; in various situations where people who sought to oppose or disadvantage Bush ever so frighteningly ended up “committing suicide”—specifically—Bush murdered them just like he murdered Schoedinger. For example, Bush murdered James Howard Hatfield by continuously criminally stalking Hatfield to the point that Hatfield could not get away from it—purposefully to force Hatfield to commit suicide—and Hatfield committed suicide in desperation to escape. However, the vast majority of such scandalous cases will never come out (the grisly details are typically hard to substantiate). A prosecutor really can lawfully charge a former president with murdering one or more people in the disgusting way Bush murdered Schoedinger. The American people unfortunately live in a world where evil presidents can murder any number of people—figuratively—with a wave of a magic wand and get away with it.

(There are thousands of copies of the information above on the Internet. Please feel free to go to any major search engine, type “GEORGE W. BUSH IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CRIMINAL STALKER” or “George W. Bush continuously criminally stalked Margie Schoedinger to the point that she could not get away from it, and she committed suicide in desperation to escape: he murdered her” or “George W. Bush applying pressure (continuously criminally stalking Margie Schoedinger) purposefully to force Schoedinger to commit suicide does in fact constitute murder where it culminated in her death” or “George W. Bush murdered James Howard Hatfield by continuously criminally stalking Hatfield to the point that Hatfield could not get away from it—purposefully to force Hatfield to commit suicide—and Hatfield committed suicide in desperation to escape,” hit “Enter,” and readily find hundreds of copies.)

(Please feel free to go to Google, type “GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY blog of Andrew Wang,” and hit “Enter.”)
_____________________
Andrew Wang
(a.k.a. “THE DISSEMINATING MACHINE”)
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

Thank you for attempting to bring some balance to this debate. Politics aside, accurate information about elevated blood sugar is important for people who live with diabetes as well as for those who are fortunate enough not to have to deal with this disease. Practically any health professional who works in a diabetes-related field can point to people in their 80s and 90s who use insulin to help control their blood sugar levels and who continue to live a full and productive life. While many others struggle with diabetes control, it would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest that because someone has diabetes they will necessarily be unable to function as contributing members of society.

- Charles Martin, DDS, Founder, Dentistry For Diabetics


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: