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Obama Nominates Hon. Sonia Sotomayor to United States Supreme Court

ts-sotomayor

"I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights."

Yesterday, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The right-wing whackjobs, as expected, are losing their shit.  They’re pulling out all the stops.  “She’s a radical.”  “She’s a liberal activist judge.” “She’s all Mexican or something.” “She’s a dame.”  “She has feelings.”  “She puts her pants suits on one leg at a time.”

Sean Hannity even said that she’s the most radical and divisive nominee ever in the history of the world, and that Obama has turned his back on white mainstream America.

WHAT THE FUCK EVER.  So you’re saying that now, Sotomayor is the most radical leftist nominee ever?  But was she the most radical leftist nominee ever when George H.W. Bush appointed her to the bench in 1991?  I mean, seriously?  Hypocrites, party of Republicans!

The right wing freak out was not unexpected.  In fact, the Republican freak out began long before Obama had even nominated Sotomayor–before, in fact, he had nominated anyone.

Back on May 1, Obama stated that his nominee for the Supreme Court would have the quality of empathy and also a dedication to the rule of law:

“Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. So I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.

I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.”

As to be expected, the right wing freaked out and claimed that Obama planned to nominate a person who will rule based only upon his or her feelings.  Of course, they–ahem! FoxNews–conveniently left out the second part of his statement, that he would “seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law.”

Some–ahem! FoxNews–even went as far as to say that Obama would seek to nominate a judge who demonstrated the quality of empathy rather than a commitment to follow the rule of law.  As if Obama’s nominee would eschew judicial robes for Birkenstocks and tie dyed shirts, and would demand that the Supreme Court justices hold drum circles instead of court.

Yawn. So predictable.

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May 27, 2009 - Posted by | Angry Black Lady Chronicles, Politiks | , , , , , , , , ,

28 Comments »

  1. The right is also forgetting the fact that she worked as a prosecuting attourney and was known as a ball-buster who was tough on crime both as an attourney and as a judge.

    Liberals want someone who is more to the left and conservatives want someone who is more to the right. This seems to me that if both sides want someone who leans more toward their respective sides, she’s probably a good nominee.

    The right should just prepare themselves for the fact that the majority of the US Supreme Court is quite elderly. It wouldn’t surprise me if Obama ends up appointing two more judges.

    Comment by blah | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. I know nothing about this woman except for a few minutes that I heard in the car listening to NPR. I just researched the statement that they said she made, and here it is: “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.”

    There is a debate going on about whether or not this is a racist comment (from 2001, if anyone cares). I believe it is (and I hate agreeing with Ann Coulter). She is implying that white males are not capable of having had rich life experiences, and that is complete bullshit. Yes, a hispanic woman with the proper education and experience (which she has) is a fine nomination for the highest bench in the country. However, it is not right for her to say that her peers on the bench somehow have inferior wisdom because of their color. The implication is really that whites have no ethnicity, no culture, no understanding of the world.

    Can we just stop the stereotyping all around, please?

    Comment by Skaði | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. It’s my understanding that she made that statement in a speech at Berkeley, the subject matter of which was racial and sex discrimination cases.

    I don’t think her stating that as an hispanic woman who grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, she might have a different perspective on racial and sex discrimination than a white man who grew up on the Upper East Side is bullshit at all.

    Given the context, I don’t view her comment as suggesting that white people haven’t had a rich life or that her peers have inferior wisdom. Seems to me she was pointing out the benefit of judicial diversity. In my view, it’s true that different life experiences can color one’s view of the law and the protection it affords or should afford minorities, women, or LGBT.

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  4. Here’s a snippet of the speech she gave (from mediamatters) which was republished in 2002 in one of the Berkeley law journals:

    In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

    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.

    Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

    However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. I completely agree skadi, I’m proud to see a fellow puerto rican nominated for such an honor, but I think she should have to answer for her comments. I still don’t think that comment indicates a tenedency to be racialy prejudicial, I think she was just trying to imitate obama and get the race issue worn out quickly, but she failed miserably. On a personal note, I saw her on CNBC and I had the sudden urge to vomit, scream, and take an axe grinder to her face simultaneously.

    Comment by drgnsldr | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. By her I mean Ann Coulter

    Comment by drgnsldr | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  7. on the personal note I mean, I’m so hungover right now, xanax and beer took me for a trip, so I mean that I wanted to take an axe grinder to Ann Coulter. and Sotomayor should have to answer for her comments.

    Comment by drgnsldr | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  8. seems like “different” would have been a better word for it than “better”

    Comment by baby fish mouth | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  9. I agree, bfm.

    Comment by WhoMee | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  10. i didn’t mean to come off preachy, skathi and e’rybody.

    in the context of her entire speech, i don’t think what she said is as offensive as it sounds when taken alone.

    i reckon she’ll have come up with a good explanation for her statement by the time the confirmation hearings start.

    also, ann coulter definitely gets a thundersquee! brick to her face.

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  11. i’m going to preach again, nonetheless. you guys should read this:

    http://www.newshounds.us/2009/05/26/will_fox_news_channel_parrot_rnc_talking_points_on_supreme_court_nominee_sonia_sotomayor.php

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  12. STM, you rock it when you’re preachy TMIMO 🙂

    Comment by Stay, see? | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  13. Again, racist. Because the context shows that she believes that a white man doesn’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against, and isn’t discriminated against for his gender (believe it or not, my husband has experienced this in several past jobs at restaurants and factories). Why assume that every man on the bench was born with a silver spoon in his mouth? Is that known to be a fact? Perhaps discrimination against whites isn’t common, but at the moment I’m living it and I have no help, no way to fight the people who don’t want me living here because of the color of my skin. I cannot afford real estate anywhere else, so my only choice as far as I can tell is to let my house go into foreclosure so I can get my kids out of this all-of-a-sudden dangerous neighborhood. Because things were fine before my current neighbors moved in. They drew the scum of the earth to my front door, and I have no recourse. And I guarantee you that the prosecutor will not say that my husband was singled out for mugging because of his race. The man actually said to him “What are you going to do? You’re white.”

    Comment by Skaði | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  14. i just don’t see how you can read that entire snippet and come out with “she’s racist” when she says “a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” she makes no assumption that every man on the bench was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. and she also doesn’t say that she believes that a white man doesn’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against.

    cheers,

    stm

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  15. First, I’m not saying that “she’s racist”. I said that her comment was racist.

    Anyway, of course she isn’t going to say any of those things outright, but the implication is very obvious. The fact is that she did outright say that she was “better”. I simply don’t believe that her experiences would give her better judgement over any kind of case than another judge, regardless of race or gender, and the fact that she believes she’s better means her ego is through the roof. I don’t trust anyone, really, that seeks a position of power, but when statements like that are made it shows their true character.

    I’m sorry if my tone was rather heated last night – I hope you can understand that I am under a LOT of stress right now. After a somewhat good night’s rest, I’m feeling a little better now.

    Comment by Skaði | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  16. it’s no problem. the sky is falling! i think the whole country is stressed out!!

    cheers,

    stm

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  17. I was at a Anti-Prop 8 Rally, and one of the speakers mentioned the comment she made, and to add a twist to it, said she was right to make it because “minority groups have a special kind of wisdom that comes from being discriminated against, for having to fight for rights that other people take for granted.”

    I’m not sure what I think about that statement, but it gave me something to ponder.

    Comment by TheHobo | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  18. individual members of oppressed groups and of minorities are as responsible as anyone else to give individual members of other races and sexes the benefit of the doubt. it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, it is up to you to learn wisdom from your experiences. to say that one person’s experience is more valuable than another person’s simply because they have an obvious challenge to overcome is shallow to say the least.

    my mother is in a wheelchair. my father is not. but he has chosen to hold her hand and experience her life with her. who has more insight? who can make a better decision? there is no difference between them – they have decided to learn from this together.

    not everyone who is oppressed is wise. not everyone who is powerful is small minded.

    Comment by baby fish mouth | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  19. not to start a thundersquee! race war, but i think saying that anyone who has not been oppressed, discriminated against, or faced assholic behavior on the basis of skin color, sexual orientation, or gender can truly experience what it’s like for those of us who have… on a regular basis… is naive. one can be empathetic. but i don’t think one can truly understand.

    TMIMO, of course.

    (p.s. i love inciting race wars.)

    (p.p.s. i don’t really, but i do love inciting respectful and robust discussions about these things.)

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  20. I think being discriminated against has made me more skeptical of the rule of law and of justice in general. But I kind of know where Justice Sotomayor is coming from from elementary to high school, my brother and I were the only puerto rican or hispanic kids in all of our schools in elementary, middle and high school so our expirience was different. I think my brother and I were a bit more jaded from the expirience, maybe Justice Sotomayor’s expiriences affected her different.

    Comment by drgnsldr | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  21. i don’t intend to diminish the very unique experience of oppressed groups. but there is something valuable to be learned from life, no matter who you are. valuable to society and to any decision making process.

    being discriminated against doesn’t necessarily make you more capable of making fair decisions.

    i may be naive. i am not saying that you can learn the SAME things no matter who you are. but it’s disheartening to think that so many people feel that today’s white males are the same as yesterday’s. it’s a whole new crop of human beings. one group’s experience isn’t better than another’s. it’s DIFFERENT.

    i also hope that empathy can be enough to influence decisions. i think that progress not only requires empathy, but is partially based upon it – we have to be able to lend a hand when we see what travesties our fellow man goes through.

    i know i’m not saying anything new but it’s been a long day and rather than just keep quiet i decided to speak up. the bottom line is, the experience of the white male is being diminished in that statement – which overall is fair, historically – but in a day to day sense, the white men i know all have unique experiences as bring something to the table. different but no less valuable, TMIMO.

    Comment by baby fish mouth | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  22. sweet. i love talking about this stuff.

    and i agree with your point way upthread. “different” would have been a better word.

    there’s definitely some arrogance in her statement. as well as arrogance in mine.

    i guess we’re militant colored (or jaded, as drgnsldr said) folk!

    🙂

    but on a serious note, i totally appreciate what you said, ms. fish mouth!

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  23. although if she had said “different” i bet she would’ve been thinking “better” and i have to admit, if i made the statement i would too.

    le sigh.

    race wars are cornfusing.

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  24. Here’s my question. What would happen if any white male judge (regardless of how socially progressive that person is) were to stand up and use that exact verbage? What if, instead of Hon. Sotomayor’s words, we found ourselves staring at this quote:

    “I would hope that a wise white man 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.”

    One word: Shitstorm.

    Comment by shu_shu | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  25. true, shu_shu. true.

    Comment by stopthemadness | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  26. I don’t know if this is overly simplistic, but I think of it like this:

    TMIMO, Men just aren’t able to understand the deep-rooted fear that many (most?) women have of being raped. Men can empathize, but it isn’t something that is in the back of their minds every time they walk into a deserted parking garage, or hear footsteps behind them in the office stairwell at a time when the building should be empty. They don’t live that experience, so they don’t “get” it.

    In a similar way, I don’t think people who are white (the race that has historically held the majority of power in the US) can understand the effect on the psyche of living a life in which you could reasonably anticipate being treated substantially worse by those in power, simply based on the color of your skin. Even if this isn’t necessarily true NOW, in all parts of the US, it most definitely is in many parts. And as recently as our parents’ generation? It was pretty true across a majority of the US. And our grandparents’ generation? Definitely true across all of the US. That’s a heritage that isn’t going to go away soon.

    So while I get tired of people yelling “racism!” when sometimes it’s just that they’re a dumbass who happens to be of color… I also can’t pretend that I was ever scared of getting worse than a ticket when getting pulled over by the police when I lived near L.A. Or that I noticed, particularly, being followed by store security while shopping. This just wasn’t my experience. I don’t “get” it.

    It doesn’t mean that it’s not a valid experience for others.

    I don’t know. I’m rambling… did this make any sense to anyone??

    Comment by SeaKat | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  27. SeaKat, it makes complete sense. But, my question is whether or not the experiences that shade one person’s life –whether those experiences were earned by power or prejudice, privilege or fear– should be a determining factor in rationing out a measure of justice.

    I know it’s cliche, but the “hallmark” of the justice system is that “justice is blind.” To me, that means that justice should be administered by people without injecting their own bias into the situation. If you start talking about how a person’s life experiences (based on being a minority or a majority) empower them to be a more “wise” decision maker, then I feel we have missed the point.

    Personally, I don’t care what sort of life a Judge has lived. I don’t care about their race, sex, creed, etc. I care if the are able to act as an impartial arbiter. I believe comments such as Hon. Sotomayor’s actually advertise her bias.

    In short, yes, I agree with you SeaKat. However, I have a higher standard for a Supreme Court nominee.

    PS: kblrikijgttgrfkhytyujhgygthhhhhhhhhkgkgl;lkhlhnng,ghhhhm
    PPS: My daughter typed that last part. Future Squee-er at work. 🙂

    Comment by shu_shu | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  28. I think that bfm has a good point when talking about empathy. Even if men don’t know what it’s like to be on guard against a possible sexual assault, I think that most of them have probably dated at least one if not more women who have had the unfortunate experience. Think about it – what is it, one in three women? Perhaps these women don’t all go to the police, but surely they are pouring their hearts out to their boyfriends and husbands. Maybe I’m wrong, but my husband has told me that most of the girls he’s dated have been raped, some more than once. I don’t think that just because he isn’t scared of being a victim of rape that he doesn’t understand somewhat the horror that many women have had to face. He has a young daughter, and he’s been teaching her since 4 years old how to defend herself, so I think he understands the dangers that face women everyday. He doesn’t like me leaving the house without my mace, and he tells me there’s no point in carrying it if I don’t have my finger on the button, even though I work next door to the police station. Since the incident last week when he was attacked, I am not to go out the door, even to go to the basement, without carrying my gun (old house, no internal stairs).

    Comment by Skaði | May 29, 2009 | Reply


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