Free Markets, Free People

Media Matters Takes On Sotomayor Quote

Water is wet, the sky is blue, and Media Matters tortures facts and logic to arrive at the conclusion that Sotomayor is being unfairly treated with respect to a prior statement:

Better than a white man?

Better than a white man?

“… 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.”

According to Media Matters, FoxNews babe Megyn Kelly and renowned ABC correspondent Jan Crawford Greenberg misrepresented the above remark and skewed Sotomayor’s true meaning:

Fox News host Megyn Kelly and ABC correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg misrepresented a remark that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, made in a speech delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, claiming that she suggested, in Kelly’s words, “that Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges.” In fact, when Sotomayor asserted, “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,” she was specifically discussing the importance of judicial diversity in determining race and sex discrimination cases.

Oh, so it’s okay if Sotomayor thinks that her race and gender make her a superior judge in certain cases. Obviously Kelly and Greenberg were horribly unfair then in accusing the SCOTUS nominee of thinking that in every case, since it’s perfectly justified to be a little bit racist and/or sexist … in some cases … sometimes.

As Media Matters for America has noted, former Bush Justice Department lawyer John Yoo has similarly stressed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “is a black man with a much greater range of personal experience than most of the upper-class liberals who take potshots at him” and argued that Thomas’ work on the court has been influenced by his understanding of the less fortunate acquired through personal experience.

Well that really nails the coffin shut, doesn’t it? Media Matters goes to the man whom they were vilifying just two weeks ago as the arbiter of what sorts of statements concerning a judge’s race and gender are acceptable. Of course, in making the comparison between Yoo’s statement and Sotomayor’s, they miss a couple of critical points:

(1) In direct contrast to Sotomator’s statement, Yoo never claimed that Clarence Thomas’ experience made him a better judge than anyone else. Instead he merely pointed out that Thomas’ experience aids in his judicial decision-making, just as those who often attack him claim they want from diversity on the bench, and that comparatively, Thomas is in a much better position to understand the plight of the less fortunate than a bunch of upper-class liberals.

(2) Sotomayor was speaking for herself, while Yoo was speaking abouts someone else.

Furthermore, going back to first, misguided point, the claim that Sotomayor was speaking only about sex and discrimination cases is more than a stretch. In fact, she was directly countering a statement attributed to Sandra Day O’Connor, and not at all limiting her refutation of that sentiment to particular cases (my emphasis):

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.

While it’s true that Sotomayor is addressing sex and discrimnation cases overall, it’s clear that, in this passage, she is listing the reasons that she thinks the O’Connor (Coyle?) platitude is mistaken in general, not just in specific circumstances. Accordingly, Kelly and Greenberg get it exactly right, and Media Matters proves, yet again, that they no more than a propaganda outfit.

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14 Responses to Media Matters Takes On Sotomayor Quote

  • Rule of Thumb:  Media Matters goes on the record for or against a certain person or issue?  Then I am perfectly safe in taking the position opposite Media Matters and by doing so I am:
    1) Correct Constitutionally
    2) Correct Morally
    3) Correct Socially
    4) Correct Logically

    Media DOESN’T Matters.

  • Why does the word “minion” come to mind ?

  • When Jan Crawford Greenberg calls you out for something, there’s an issue we need to look at more closely.  She’s about as fair a person as can exist in DC covering the Supreme Court, and when she picks up on an item and says it’s a little troubling, we should all stand up and take note.

  • Cherry picking quotes is a favorite in modern politics.   You say one thing wrong in a speech or sometimes in an interview, and it lives forever.   I would never judge a politician left or right on one quote, especially one like this clearly designed for effect on the audience.     It’s like when they tarred and feathered Lott for what he said at Strom Thurmond’s B-day party.   It’s gotcha politics, totally without substance — ignore real issues and debates and go for the quote that one can get a gut reaction from.   Lame, but both sides do it.

    • You say one thing wrong in a speech or sometimes in an interview, and it lives forever.

      Gosh, you say one racist thing and everyone thinks you’re a bigot. Go figure.

    • Oh, you mean like, uh, using the word “Macaca” in a speech, right?

      I mean, it was only ONE time, I note the historical record indicates there was great forgiveness and understanding.

  • I think there can be a universal definition of ‘wise’, or any other word. That is why we have dictionaries and attempt to teach what used to be called ‘standard English’ in schools. People may differ on whether a certain person has  ‘the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting’, but the definition should be the same.

    Of course there are those who intentionally try to destroy such standards, hoping that they can take advantage of the ensuing chaos.

    “ignore real issues and debates and go for …”

    Sorry old boy, but her criteria and basis for making legal decisions is a legitimate issue.

  • I think  I heard that interview.  I’m not certain, because there have been several, and I don’t have a clear image of Jan Crawford Greenberg’s face in mind. 

    In the  interview I heard, Greenberg (if indeed it was Greenberg) called Rush Limbaugh racist because he criticized Sotomayor’s comment as being racist.  In fact, if Scott Jacobs is correct, perhaps it wasn’t Greenberg simply because that statement is pretty stupid, which belies Scott’s evaluation of Greenberg.  Limbaugh may be right, or he may be wrong – but he certainly isn’t making a _racist_ statement!

  • Ah, but Scott – Mr. Wade <I>provided the context</i>, rather than providing the quote out of context and “cherry picking” it.

    Saying that “both sides do it” doesn’t mean anyone’s doing it <I>here</i>.

    If you think this is a cherry-picked, unfair quote, that does not reflect poorly on Judge Sotomayor, could you explain how the race and gender of the people involved determines the justice of the decision they make, <I>given that both are wise</i> and presumably also inclined to be just and fair?

    What makes a “Latina woman”‘s experiences “richer” in a way that would “more often” make her pick a “better conclusion” than the white male?

    What is “that life” that she lived, <I>exactly</i>, and how does it make her richer/better-conclusory?

    It sure as hell isn’t clear to me what Judge Sotomayor might have meant, apart from conclusions that are basically either racist or along the lines of “whoever is notionally oppressed is obviously better”. Given that I reject the idea that oppression automatically builds wisdom, I must reject such claims just as firmly as I would racist ones. I’m perfectly willing to give Judge Sotomayor the benefit of the doubt and grant her the latter rather than the former, but the statement is still <I>worrying</i> from someone headed to the Supreme Court.

    • You are fixating on one quote.  That is irrelevant.  Look over the judicial record.  You’re playing gotcha politics.   That’s mindless.

      • Her decision have been overturned by the Supremes at a 60% rate. Even when they don’t overturn her, they slay her awful logic.

        Her handling of the firemen in the one case she ruled on backs the quote up perfectly; it’s the type of identity politics decision you would expect from someone quoted saying that.

        Her record is garbage. And even fellow leftists have not been impressed with her shallow intellect.

  • By the way, I oppose judicial activism (though believe justices should have empathy — otherwise let a computer program decide cases).  I think there are some really good points to make about Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy and the like.  It’s just sad when people look at an emotion-invoking quote and make that the basis of discussion.

    • Erb’s right. Let’s not look at what she has actually said to help us figure out her judicial philosophy. That’s just nuts!

      Erb puts lots of words together and they never remain firm any any philosophical point. Why should he expect anyone else’s statements to mean anything?

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