Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's most disturbing about the picture below in not just that Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor appear to have fallen deeply in love, but that they are both advocates of a kind of "racial identity" politics that most of us thought our country had outgrown.
We learned today that Sonia Sotomayor, who cheerfully dabbles in racism and sexism, has been a leader in La Raza ("The Race"), an Hispanic group that promotes racial separatism and extreme forms of ethnic pride. If Sotomayor, with her outrageous statements and mean-spirited attitudes, were a white man -- or even a white woman -- she would have no chance of being confirmed.
Yes, Lady Justice wears a blindfold. Yes, judges are supposed to do everything in their power to be fair and impartial. But tell those truisms to Obama, who favors empathy for certain groups but not for others, and to Sotomayor, who believes "wise Latina" judges are inherently better than wise white male judges.
Question for Obama and his Latina nominee: when, if ever, has she demonstrated wisdom? What would her "wisdom" tell her about a white judge who had joined a group called "The Race" (in his case, of course, the WHITE race)?
Some of the best writing about Sotomayor's severe deficiencies as a judge -- and as a human being -- came from Stuart Taylor, writing in The National Journal before Obama named his nominee. He says:
"It follows that the Supreme Court might well be a wiser body -- other things being equal -- if the next justice is a Hispanic woman of outstanding judgment and capability. But do we want a new justice who comes close to stereotyping white males as (on average) inferior beings? And who seems to speak with more passion about her ethnicity and gender than about the ideal of impartiality?

"Compare Sotomayor's celebration of 'how wonderful and magical it is to have a Latina soul' and reflections 'on being a Latina voice on the bench' with Judge Learned Hand's eulogy for Justice Benjamin Cardozo in 1938."

"'The wise man is the detached man,' Hand wrote. 'Our convictions, our outlook, the whole makeup of our thinking, which we cannot help bringing to the decision of every question, is the creature of our past; and into our past have been woven all sorts of frustrated ambitions with their envies, and of hopes of preferment with their corruptions, which, long since forgotten, determine our conclusions. A wise man is one exempt from the handicap of such a past; he is a runner stripped for the race; he can weigh the conflicting factors of his problem without always finding himself in one scale or the other.'

Taylor says, "Some see such talk as tiresome dead-white-male stuff, from a time when almost all judges were white males -- although, in Cardozo's case, descended from Portuguese Jews. I see it as the essence of what judges should strive to be."

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