Apropos Jeffrey Rosen making unsubstantiated claims about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's intelligence, we find out this is rather old hat for Mr. Rosen. When Judge Diane Wood was appointed to the 7th Circuit by President Clinton, Rosen argued that she exemplified how "single-minded pursuit of diversity, combined with an eagerness to avoid controversy, has kept him from appointing the best available legal minds to the courts."
Of course, history has proven Rosen dead wrong, as Judge Wood has shown herself to be one of the brightest stars of the judiciary and is widely recognized as quite the intellectual heavyweight. One would have thought he might have gained some humility from the experience. Alas, he doesn't seem to have skipped a beat.
But as Scott Lemieux aptly points out, there is an extra layer of bizarro here: Judge Wood's credentials upon appointment (service in the Justice Department and longtime professor at the University of Chicago) were roughly identical to those of Antonin Scalia's when he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit. Yet nobody ever questioned Scalia's credentials -- indeed, Scalia has a somewhat overrated reputation as the intellectual titan of the Supreme Court. We saw the same delightful dynamic comparing the reactions that met longtime 3rd Circuit Appeals Judge and Princeton/Yale grad Samuel Alito's nomination to those that met the potential of longtime 2nd Circuit Appeals Judge and Princeton/Yale grad Sonia Sotomayor.