Everyone is by now aware of this Sonia Sotomayor comment: "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." One of the right's rhetorical moves during the Sotomayor debate has been to say that if a white man had said what Sotomayor had said--but exchanged "Latina woman" and "white man"--he would have been instantly disqualified from a nomination (and, for that matter, shunned from polite society).
This idea that Sonia Sotomayor's line that a "wise Latina woman" has an advantage in judging over a white man is racist can be taken in two ways. One is that the people saying this are just playing politics.
Victor Davis Hanson believes Sonia Sotomayor is "race obsessed": In her now much quoted 2001 UC Berkeley speech she invoked “Latina/Latino” no less than 38 times, in addition to a variety of other racial-identifying synonyms.
The Hill reports that while Senate Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from the activists attacking Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, the behind-the-scenes message is a different one: Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.“Swann told us she wanted to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president of A
It's a little strange to see folk on the other side of the Senate aisle who were prepared to go down the line for Harriet Miers nitpicking about and against Sonia Sotomayor. Measured across the sweep of Supreme Court justices over the course of American history, she is not at all an embarrassment. More than that, Sotomayor has shown an intellectual flexibility that has scared many true-believers in the liberal catechism. But this flexibility shows more thoughtfulness about legal issues than the predictability of some of her colleagues on the appellate bench.
The descriptions of the housing project that Sonia Sotomayor grew up in are an important rejoinder to a truism oft-heard: that poor blacks were done in by, in addition to so many other things, architecture. We are to shake our heads at the thought of "the demolishing of low-rent housing through slum clearance and replacement of these units with massive high-rise public housing projects sited exclusively in black residential districts," as my Bloggingheads sparring partner Glenn Loury once put it.
Somewhat belatedly, I've noticed that numerous commentators have decided to label Jeffrey Rosen's online article about Sonia Sotomayor from a few weeks ago as "gossip." The description has been employed by left-wing or liberalcommentators like Glenn Greenwald of Salon, Adam Serwer of the American Prospect, and Matthew Yglesias of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Today it's repeated by right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer. "Gossip" is an effective label for those who wish to denigrate Rosen's reporting or the reputation of TNR, but it's an inaccurate one.
Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, grew up near Ebbets Field, lives near Fenway Park, and has always hated the Yankees. President Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor to serve as a justice marks an important step toward a more diverse and representative Supreme Court. We have had a Justice from Brooklyn (Ginsburg) and one from Queens (Scalia). Now, finally, we have one from the Bronx!
Erwin Chemerinsky is the dean and a distinguished professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law President Obama's choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is brilliant politically, but even more importantly, terrific for the Supreme Court and the future of constitutional law. Everything that is known about her indicates that she will be an easy confirmation and an outstanding justice. From a political perspective, a Supreme Court nomination can be treacherous, as presidents need to please their political base without risking undue political capital over a confirmation fight.