Free Markets, Free People

Sotomayor – Reason To Be Concerned?

While there is all sorts of silly criticism emerging on the right (including the pronunciation of her name and the fact that she likes certain latin foods), there is an emerging criticism which I think has some validity. Most of of focuses on a speech she delivered at UC Berkley in 2001 and published later by The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.

“While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law,” Sotomayor said.

“Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum’s aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

Although she attempts to have it both ways (“I agree” and “we do a disservice”), she seems to really be claiming that some level of gender or racial “empathy” is necessary to render “fair” judgments. And that only those who have lived that life are capable of such renderings. Here she essentially admits that to be the case as she perceives it:

“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” Sotomayor said. “My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

How else do you interpret her statement except to say, “we can’t change the fact that personal experiences affect our work and the best we can hope for is we will “take the good” for those experiences and apply them …?”

That, of course, helps explain the statement most of the right object too the most, i.e.:

“…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.”

Given what she said above, this makes perfect sense. Although she claims to agree “judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law”, she then builds the case that a) such isn’t really possible, and b) in fact race and gender based experience is a positive that should be injected in such “reason of law”.

Her ruling in the case of the 18 white firefighters in New Haven CT seems to indicate she is indeed inclined to use race and gender bias in her decisions.

That is a legitimate and troubling point and certainly one which requires a very close look. But Republicans need to lay off the silliness (and words like “racist”) and stick with the legitimate points of contention her nomination bring. And they need to explain their concerns in a way which is both complete and easy to understand.

~McQ

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18 Responses to Sotomayor – Reason To Be Concerned?

  • Republicans need to lay off the silliness (and words like “racist”)

    Tell that to Newt.  From what I saw he never used the word “racist” but it got used for him.

    • Ummm…

      Direct from the twit…

      Latina woman racist should also withdraw.

      • Well, I guess if Obama is going to nominate someone, we are best off that they are not the sharpest knife in the drawer. This woman may have a decent resume, but her logic stinks.

  • There are indeed a number of truly ‘silly’ statements coming out of the nomination discussion.  CBS and NBC produce their share of them.   

    At least Newt is standing up in opposition.  Opposing an activist judicial nominee who has no problem using her heritage as an excuse to overturn legal precedent and redefine legislative intent as it suits her world view, this nominee deserves to be opposed.    At least it is interesting and entertaining to see who is saying what about this nominee.

    ( for a list of some other silly statements, you can visit:  http://firstconservative.com/blog/political-humor/political-humor-the-sotomayor-season-of-silly-statements  )

  • In our sound-bite political and media culture, if you’re explaining, you’re losing. So it’s no surprise that the Republicans are going with the theme that needs no explanation: racism. And frankly, I think that they can make it stick. (Whether or not it is wise to do so is another issue.)

    I think that they would be better off to make the same point indirectly:

    Sotomayor is conceding the racists’ and sexists’ arguments, that race and gender differences make some people better than others. If we allow that to be the societal standard, then we have no categorical weapon against racism and sexism, and we are back to the situation where unpopular groups are protected, if at all, only by the generosity of the majority, which is exactly where we were before MLK. Since the Supreme Court dictates the scope and nature of the law, Sotomayor’s nomination guarantees a move towards more acceptability for racism and sexism, <em>even if</em> she is not herself racist or sexist. Thus, we cannot in good conscience vote for her, and urge our Democratic colleagues to reject her, and force the President to nominate someone who does not promote racism and sexism.

    Is it a winning argument? Probably not. Although in this case (member of 2 preferred Democratic subgroups, “historic first” on the Court, 59 Democrats in the Senate, their first nomination in over a decade, and so forth), “she rapes baby seals before eating them alive, and here it is on film” is probably not a winning argument. But it’s a <em>better</em> argument, and a less dismissible argument, than simply saying “racist.” Of course, whatever the Republicans say about this, the media will <em>claim</em> they said “racist,” so they are probably in a no-win situation in any case.

    Most importantly, though, for the Republicans, is that this is not hill to die on, and pulling out all the stops would be a waste of credibility and resources. A better approach would be to raise the points in such a way that her future writings could be combined with those accusations in an “I told you so” approach to a future nomination, if Obama gets the opportunity to replace a conservative Justice, rather than a liberal one, as in this case.

  • Any chance that she believes that a white male, raised and educated in an eastern establishment environment, say, where his father (or mother..or both) were judges and ate, drank, and slept
    Constitutional law might be better suited to make decisions regarding older, less, uh, latin influenced aspects of law?

    You know sort of as if some white male Supreme Court candidate had observed –

    …a wise White male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn’t lived that life.”

    Any chance any of us WOULDN’T find something objectionable with that phrasing?  

    Hah…yeah, fat, freakin chance.
    Madness that that one single view she expressed, alone and of itself, didn’t instantly exempt her from consideration.

  • While there is all sorts of silly criticism emerging on the right (including the pronunciation of her name and the fact that she likes certain latin foods), there is an emerging criticism which I think has some validity.

    You’re on about this…

    It sticks in my craw.

    More like a stick up his ass.

    LOL!  Mr. Krikorian… or how it’s actually pronounced, Mr. Douchebag.

    And to anyone out there named Seamus, sorry man… your name is now James.  It’s just how it is here in NRO’s America.

    Sorry, McQ.  Your legitimate concerns will surely be loosed from the rope that the Republicans continue to carry around to hang themselves with.

    Racist!!  The woman’s name is like… weird.  And she eats tacos for Pete’s sake.  You know who eats tacos???  Racist brown people with funny names, that’s who.

    There’s your modern Republican party.

    Cheers.

    • I don’t get it. He spends a large portion of his post explaining why Armenian pronunciation won’t fly in the USA…so where’s the problem?

      Oh, and Pogue, if you insist this is an issue, I cannot wait to correct your tonal pronunciation of any Asian surnamed individual….no, no, its not Chen1 but Chen2, get it right!

      That said, it is a dumb topic – Americans will figure out a middle ground on pronunciation.

      • In fact, this should be the next gotcha question for a Democrat.

        What is the name of the Premier of China?…and you must get the pronunciation AND tones right, otherwise you are a racist sonofabitch.

      • Oh, and Pogue, if you insist this is an issue, I cannot wait to correct your tonal pronunciation of any Asian surnamed individual….no, no, its not Chen1 but Chen2, get it right!

        Pfft.

        I don’t give a rat’s ass about the pronunciation of any Asian surname.

        Toby?  Toby Wong.  Toby Wong?  Toby Wong.  Toby Chung?  F*cking Charlie Chan.

        But of course, I’m not one saying that, “there are limits.”
        No, that’s Mr. Crackwhore.

        Who the f*ck is he to start dictating how we pronounce each others names?
        Which is exactly what he did.

        “It’s unnatural.”
        You know what’s unnatural?  Crackwhores with douchebags.  That’s what’s unnatural.

        By the way.  How do you pronounce “Harun”?

        Hayroon
        Hairrun
        Hahrun
        Hahroon
        ???

        Whatever you like, man.  But remember, there are “limits.”

        Cheers.

      • I’ve always thought it was a matter of respect for the person.  It’s just polite, even if you hate her guts.

        It is also, to me, a measure of the person who can’t seem to get it right even after hearing it pronounced correctly a couple times.    Her name is NOT that complicated, even if  ‘owwwww so haaaard’ you have to stretch your capacities a little to get it right.

        Good lord, when I think of the Poles I grew up with and their name spellings, but we still managed to pronounce their names properly, even if we couldn’t necessarily READ them and pronounce them right the first time.

        If this is even remotely on the talking points list we might as well, indeed, get out of the way of her appointment.

    • Ah, Seemus, good to meet you.

      Meet my son – This is  “Sean” pronounced “See-an”.

      Aww hell, make it John, the English were never bright enough to get it right anyway.

  •  she then builds the case that a) such isn’t really possible, and b) in fact race and gender based experience is a positive that should be injected in such “reason of law”.

    Bingo. That’s the crux of the problem right there. Distinguish this from Alito’s remarks on the same issue.

  • Put out your points, vote against and leave it at that. Talk about her comments regarding legislation from the appeals court, put out there the comment about white dudes make her answer those questions and the question about the purpose of the supreme court in the hearings. But i think i agree, no crazyness or foaming, just put out your point succinctly and be done with it.

  • Clearly only old white guys are ever picked on merit.

    • Clearly logical leaps are your specialty.

    • If it weren’t for that fact that it’s you making the comment, it would rate a 10 on the “huh-?-meter”.

      Got nothing to do with her race and gender, except for the fact that she, uh, thinks her race and gender make her more qualified to render good ‘legal’  rulings.

      You don’t see the problem with that, go figure Tommy, who’d have guessed.