Tuesday, May 26, 2009


It's Sotomayor!

Sonia Sotomayor will be the next Justice of the US Supreme Court. My own commentary is limited (I'm blogging from my phone), but what do you think?

word on the street is that she takes her clerks to see harry potter premires. that should meet everyone's judicial criteria...
I've just been watching some of the evening news shows (including the level-headed PBS), learning about her, and she sounds great--and unbelievably qualified. Pat Buchanan was on MSNBC, along with Tom Tancredo, trying to question her qualifications and her ability to be impartial . . . but they ended up sounding ridiculous. If the Republicans are smart, they will squelch Pat B and his company and save it for another battle. They would be nuts to make a big deal of her confirmation.
What makes a person qualified to sit on the United States Supreme Court? And should that be the question?

Robert Bork was unquestionably qualified. Law degree from the University of Chicago, law review, private practice, professor at Yale, Solicitor General of the United States, and a judge on the federal court of appeals for the DC circuit for six years. He was personally commended by Chief Justice Burger as one of the finest advocates to every practice in front of his Court.

So, was he qualified? Does it make you angry that Democrats stopped him from becoming a Supreme Court justice?

I agree that she has a qualifying educational and employment background. But is she qualified? I haven't read her opinions yet, and I'm not going to sit here and recite what all of the political hacks have been saying all day. So, I will just take her at her word.

She is a person that is on the record saying that her hispanic background and gender will "more often than not" result in her making better decisions than a white male jurist. Why? Isn't that racism in its most basic form?

She has said that the courts of appeals are "where policy is made." Is that a legal interpretation of the role of the courts that we are happy with?

My bet is that she is qualified. These are minor issues. These aren't issues that should disqualify someone outright from sitting on the bench. But, she should have to explain herself in a full and open forum with adequate opposition, if for no other reason than that is what our system demands.

Also, I think there are probably going to be questions over her judicial philosophy on certain issues. I read at least one case today where a decision she authored was unanimously overruled by the Supreme Court. Shouldn't we at least be interested in that? Shouldn't we want to do more?

Finally, wouldn't it be unpatriotic for the Republicans not to at least provide some opposition to the nomination, since dissent is the highest form of patriotism? Right? I heard that somewhere...
Aaaand the right-wing spin machine is already painting a center-right justice as a hard-left activist out to rip babies out of their mother's womb, who only got to the position she has because of her gender and skin color!

Totally classless, Rush and Wendy Long.

At the very least, it exposes the racist and sexist bases of much of the conservative movement. Can't win on the issues? Then whine about irrelevant details.

NB: I was actually very proud to read her speech that argued judges should take their personal views in to consideration, especially their experiences as women and ethnic minorities. The white male position is very well represented in our law, thank you very much. I'd like to see some diversity of opinion.
Aaaand here come the liberals that will try to quiet any debate about their nominee by calling anyone that doesn't like her a racist, or a sexist, or a crazy right-wing evangelical.

I read the article you linked to and watched the video of Rush. I didn't hear either one of them say that Sotomayor was someone who wanted to "rip babies out of their mother's womb." In fact, noted bastion of impartiality, the Huffington Post, made it pretty clear that she isn't exactly in-line (at least in past decisions) with the pro-choice movement.


But that would actually require us to review her record, which if we do then we must also admit to hating women and minorities. I guess I have exposed my racism and sexism, traits I had never previously exhibited, by merely suggesting that we actually ask her a few questions and see what she thinks about some things.

I read a post by Jonah Goldberg today (I know, he is a windbag and a racist/sexist just like the rest of us....blah, blah, blah) where he said that the Sotomayor pick was cunning on Obama's part because it would allow Democrats to label every single attack on her as racist and/or sexist.

It is amazing how quickly he is being proven right...
RRL, of course Republicans should be able to put forth reasonable opposition. I'm not saying they shouldn't. I'm just saying that, from what I've heard and read so far, I think they are MOSTLY putting up the spin machine.

You're right, I have not read her opinions either, and yes, I'm interested in hearing more of the context in which she made her comment about a Hispanic woman being able to make better decisions than a white man. But what bothers me are people jumping all over that remark without looking at its context, or at the pattern of decisions she has actually made. And people saying that she was the affirmative-action nominee, as if her own legal experience and education wasn't already enough. Someone even questioned her intellectual ability, which is ridiculous.

Of course the Republicans are entitled to put up opposition and yes, maybe she provides a good forum for us to question what makes a person qualified to be on the Supreme Court.

But why should she, a woman and a Hispanic, provide an even greater reason to discuss what makes a person qualified than the nomination of a white man? That's what's bothering me. Judge her on her legal philosophy and decisions, sure, but what I'm hearing so far have, in large part, been objections related to her gender and ethnicity. Nobody questioned Alito's or Roberts' nominations as being undeserved because of their gender or ethnicity.

I want to hear more as well, but I think going down the road of questioning her role as a woman or Hispanic on the Supreme Court is a road leading to nowhere, and as political strategy for Republicans is a bad move.
It's remarkable how partisan folks get all uppity when a party starts acting, well, partisan.

When republicans and democrats point out each others' dirty tricks, as though they invented said tricks, I always have to laugh.

Democrats are trying to be savvy? You don't say! Republicans are overstating their objections! Get out of town!

I'm interested in what the specific calls and decisions on this woman's record make YOU believe about her as a member of the land's highest court. I am not interested in what you think of Pat Buchanan's perspective on Nancy Grace's response to whomever.

Just airing my totally unoriginal distaste for political conversations that end up being about very little.
RRL, let's be honest -- you are a sexist. You believe only women should be allowed to wear tight tshirts. Stop oppressing Bell's god given right to break gender barriers.
You know what, TJ is right. I have no answer to that.

Though, if being against Bell wearing tight t-shirts is wrong then I don't want to be right. In fact, if Democrats would simply include an anti-Bell wearing tight t-shirts provision into their platform then I might very well become a single issue voter and switch parties.

Well, they might also have to include support for a ban on Bell wearing plaid shorts or discussing simultaneous invention to get my full throated support.
I can't speak for the Dems, but the US Communist Party is opposed to the antiproletarian tightness of Alex's shirts. Plaid shorts are the tool of market oppressors. Can we look forward to your attendance at the next rally, Comrade?
"The white male position is very well represented in our law, thank you very much. I'd like to see some diversity of opinion."


No disrespect, but I have no idea what this statement means.

What is the "white male position" in our law? Judging from your profile picture, you are a white male like me but, judging from your comments on this and other threads, we have vastly different positions on this and many other issues.

This reminds me of criticisms I've heard elsewhere about Justice Thomas -- to the effect that he is not "really" black because he has a conservative judicial philosophy.

If you like Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Jutice due to her positions, politics, judicial philosophy, outlook on life . . . etc., that's fine. But the assumption that she will add "diversity of opinion" simply as a result of her ethnic background does not necessarily seem sound (I also note that "diversity of opinion", as an end in and of itself, could also be obtained by naming, for example, Joel Osteen to the Supreme Court, but probably no one, including me, would think that was necessarily a good idea).
The myth that we are disembodied subjects, that our perspectives are totally indifferent to our social positions is the absurd. While Lane (and I) can try to sympathize with the position of a Latina female, and while we can endorse her political agenda believing that it is politically just, we can never know it and only partially represent it.

Of course there could be an endless logic of extension here -- do we need a "token" justice for every single form of diversity in the U.S.? Of course not, but increasing diversity will increase the range of perspectives on the court.
After much genuflecting, the Senate Judiciary Committee will settle in to questioning and the term 'Starre Decisis' (sorry no spell check or law book) will be invoked ad nauseum during the hearing. If there are no embarassing bodies buried in Judge Sotomayor's closet, they will vote and pass her nomination to the full Senate for a vote. The vote will be about 80-20
Septimus has adequately stated the position, but let me expound a bit.

What he refers to as a "disembodied subject" is a reification of something abstract, the treatment of all human beings as uniform in judgment even though, obviously, we are not. I am not saying that Sotomayor's experience makes her better qualified than me, a white guy, to be a judge. But it is different, and markedly so. Even though I can try to be sympathetic to the position of Latin females (I am married to one, after all, and not trying usually gets me sleeping on the couch for a few nights), that experience is fundamentally beyond the type of experience I can have.

The men that have made up the court (and I don't think that Thomas is a white male justice; obviously, he's African-American and his upbringing reflects such, and his viewpoint as an Afram is as valid as any) and the women have all brought different experiences, but in many ways they've still been uniform. None of the current justices, for example, grew up as a Hispanic woman. They didn't face the same challenges (though they certainly faced their own!) and don't have the same experience to draw on.

I think diversity of experience is always a good thing. All things being equal, I would rather have a candidate with diverse experience than one with a similar experience to most of the people currently on the court. Yes, I would say the same for an Asian female, a black female, Asian male, etc. I think we have too many people on the court with vastly similar experiences, and try as we might to be sensitive to experiences not our own, our sympathy is only a pale shadow of lived experience.

Treating everyone as if their experience is uniform does a disservice to the wonderful multiplicity of variation in life in the world. That's why I find identity politics and reification to be such pertinent issues.
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