Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Say 'Latina' again.

Get ready for Latina Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor.

She will be the first Latina American to serve on the high court.

And she's Latina.

From the opening paragraphs of articles announcing the selection this morning....
CNN: "Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and third female U.S. Supreme Court justice if confirmed."

The AP: "...making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice."

Reuters: "...selecting a woman who would be the court's first Latino to replace retiring Justice David Souter."
Identity politics, anyone?

NBC's First Read nailed it.
[D]on't ignore the politics surrounding this pick. As we've mentioned before, Latino groups have been grumbling somewhat about their representation (or lack thereof) in the Obama administration, as well as the fact that immigration reform doesn't appear to be on the White House's front-burner. But this pick buys Obama A LOT of time with Hispanics -- a demographic he won last year, 67%-31% -- on immigration and other issues. Is it a coincidence that Obama this week heads out West to Nevada and California, two states with large Latino populations?
Sadly, this Latina lacks of chops for the job. After all, how many other nominees to the High Court have had their judgements reversed FOUR TIMES by the Supreme Court for such frightening reasons such as "erroneous interpretation of the tax code" and "failure to apply precedent correctly"?

But that won't stop her from getting affirmed.

What if I told you she was a racist? From a Sotomayor speech in 2001:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Yes, Virginia, there is reverse racism.

Sadly, this won't stop her either.

After all, she is Latina.


  1. There is no such thing as reverse racism. There is simply racism. If you hate black people because they are black, then you are a racist. If you hate white people because they are white, you are also a racist. The phrase reverse racism is an overblown, meaningless phrase

  2. This is weak. Sotomayor is hardly a liberal demagogue. Orignially she was put on the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and was confirmed by the Senate unanimously. When she was appointed by President Clinton in 1998 to the appellate court, she was confirmed by a 67-29 vote, including 25 Republicans. She was reportedly considered by President George W. Bush in 2005 for the vacant seat that eventually went to Samuel Alito. Frankly, your readers want, and deserve better than this kind of muckraking.

  3. Calling it "weak" doesn't make any of it less true.

  4. I called it weak, because it's a weak effort on your part. Normally, you have a well written blog, whether I agree with it or not. However, I think your suggestion that the below statement is racist is patently untrue.

    "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

    I'm not exactly clear how this is racist. Per a google search, racism is defined as "prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races". Ms Sotomayor is not suggesting that Latinas are better, or smarter, or better than whites, or males. If you read the article you quote, which was published in the Spring 2002 issue of Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, a symposium issue entitled "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation," it is obviously focused on empowering both women and specifically minority women. I would also have you and your readers note the paragraph directly following the one you quoted.

    "Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown."

    Boy, she's quite the racist, isn't she?

    Quote mining is awfully dangerous. I suppose you think the quote below is racist.

    "It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."

    Congratulations. You've just called Martin Luther King Jr. a racist.

    If you want to scream racism at someone, I suggest you look a little closer to a certain bastion of the Republican base.

    "I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."

    -Rush Limbaugh

    "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."

    -Rush Limbaugh, to a black caller.

    "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

    -Rush Limbaugh

    "Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

    -Rush Limbaugh

    "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

    -Rush Limbaugh

    "[Blacks] are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"

    -Rush Limbaugh

    "[Colin Powell] is just mad at me because I'm the one person in the country who had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama," Limbaugh responded. "It was purely and solely based on race."

    -Rush Limbaugh

  5. And you scold me for cherrypicking?

    For shame.

    And yes, her comment is still racist.

  6. And not just in words, but in action as well. I quote:

    U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee, voted to deny a racial discrimination claim in a 2008 decision. She dismissed the case in a one-paragraph statement that, in the opinion of one dissenting judge, ignored the evidence and did not even address the constitutional issues raised by the case.

    The case, Ricci v. DeStefano, involved a group of 19 white firefighters and one Hispanic firefighter who filed suit in 2003 claiming that the city of New Haven, Conn., engaged in racial discrimination when it threw out the results of two promotion tests because none of the city’s black applicants had passed the tests.

    Each of the plaintiffs had passed the exam. The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.


    U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sotomayor issued an order that affirmed Arterton’s decision, issuing a one-paragraph judgment that called Arterton’s ruling “thorough, thoughtful, and well reasoned,”

    But according to dissenting Judge Jose Cabranes, the single-paragraph order issued by Sotomayor and her colleagues ignored over 1,800 pages of testimony and more than an hour of argument--ignoring the facts of the case.

    “(T)he parties submitted briefs of 86 pages each and a six-volume joint appendix of over 1,800 pages; plaintiffs’ reply brief was over thirty pages long," Cabranes wrote.

    "(O)ral argument, on December 10, 2007, lasted over an hour,” Cabranes explained, adding that more than two months after oral arguments, Sotomayor and the majority panel upheld the lower court in a summary order “containing a single substantive paragraph.”

    Cabranes criticized Sotomayor and the majority for not explaining why they had sided with the city in their new opinion.

    “This per curiam opinion adopted in toto the reasoning of the District Court, without further elaboration or substantive comment, and thereby converted a lengthy, unpublished district court opinion, grappling with significant constitutional and statutory claims of first impression, into the law of this Circuit,” Cabranes wrote in his dissent.

    Judge Cabranes also said that Sotomayor’s opinion failed to address the constitutional issues of the case, saying the majority had ignored the facts of the case as well.

    “It did so, moreover, in an opinion that lacks a clear statement of either the claims raised by the plaintiffs or the issues on appeal. Indeed, the opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case,” the judge criticized.

    “This Court has failed to grapple with the questions of exceptional importance raised in this appeal,” Judge Cabranes concluded. “If the Ricci plaintiffs are to receive such an opinion from a reviewing court they must now look to the Supreme Court. Their claims are worthy of that review.”

  7. So this makes her racist how again? The worst thing you can say about this, and there is no doubt it raises concern, is why no further evaluation of the constitutionality of Title VII was taken by the appellate court. But please note, the Ricci case was a unanimous ruling by a panel of 3 judges, not just Judge Sotomayor. Also, please note that rather than so-called judicial activism, Ms. Sotomayor's and the appellate courts decision here follows legal precedent. Also note that when the full appellate court voted whether to rehear the Ricci case, they decided not to by a 7-6 margin. It was here that Judge Cabranes wrote his dissent that you quote. Even the supreme court seems to have had difficulty with the case. From the scotuswiki: "On April 22, the Court heard an extended — over seventy minutes long – argument in Ricci v. Destefano. It clearly struggled with the distinctions and analogies presented by the counsel and the Justices themselves, as the argument was marked by the Justices talking over one another and asking counsel to repeat and clarify their responses."

    Even a brief review of her cases seems to reveal a moderate judge with mild leftist leanings. From Foxnews.com comes the following paragraphs.

    "In 2002, she ruled against an abortion rights group that claimed the so-called "Mexico City Policy" -- which prohibited U.S. funding from going to foreign groups performing or supporting abortion services -- was a violation of the First Amendment and other rights.

    The government is "free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position," she held.

    In another 2004 case, Sotomayor's opinion ruled in favor of anti-abortion protesters who claimed a town had improperly trained officers who allegedly used excessive force in arresting them. Plus she has sided against minority plaintiffs who brought discrimination cases to her court."

    It seems quite clear that President Obama, currently riding a wave of significant popularity(whether well-deserved or not), and with a significant majority in the Senate, could have nominated an extrememely liberal, activist judge to replace the moderate Justice Souter. Instead, Justice Sotomayor seems to be a reasonable, reasoned, and non-extremist nomination. In my opinion, an aggressive attack on her nomination, such as with spurious accusations of racism, would be foolish, especially with the many issues that Republicans should be attacking President Obama and the Democrats on.


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