Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blocking Sonia.

So, while I was out of town, President Obama made the long-expected appointment of Sonia Sotomayor official. Anyone who's followed this blog knows I was pushing for a black female judge, simply because Black folks have had no SCOTUS representation since Thurgood Marshall died, and Barry sorta kinda owes it to the women who figuratively saved his ass last Spring. But this being politricks and all, dude predictably took the opportunistic route and chose the very qualified Sotomayor, presumably to help cement the Latino vote. Funny, but last time I checked, Puerto Ricans weren't exactly a booming population in America, but hell, Latinos are a homogenous entity, so who cares? Sonia it is.

All cynicism aside, since Sotomayor is arguably even more qualified than half the folks currently seated, it's difficult to argue with the choice, even for a guy like me who actually prefers polarizing identity politricks. I have little doubt that she'll be a fair, evenhanded Justice, and even though I wished he'd chosen a black woman (or at least publicly pretended to consider one), I'm ok with the pick. But you know certain folks won't be okay, and the GOP has been hiding in bushes, rummaging through her trash, and generally trying to work angles to discredit the woman in a desperate attempt to block her confirmation. And this being America, what angle works better than race?

The initial opposition seems to be centered around some comments Sotomayor has made at various points about her feeling that being a minority and a female gives her a unique perspective when considering cases. Her exact words have been taken out of context repeatedly, but the gist 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". Never mind that this particular statement happened during a speech at a law and diversity conference, which makes the context pretty understandable. In the few days I've been back, I've seen this quote used to insinuate that Sotomayor thinks she's "better" than a white guy, is a racist, is a reverse racist (WTH?), is an identity politrician, and can't possibly be trusted with a SCOTUS gig because when the rubber hits the road, she'll always rule in favor of "those homogeneously ideological Latinos".


Lets look at the full quote, BTW. "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." This, to me, is shades of that whole "for the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of my country" nonsense that brewed up a few months back. Does omitting a few words (ie: "who hasn't lived that life") make a difference in the overall intent of a message? Personally, I think it does. I don't think a person as well-educated and likely well-versed in racial politricks as Sotomayor would/could harbor such a sentiment, yet still rise to the pinnacle of her profession. Wouldn't such a supremacist attitude have reared itself in some way that would likely have short-circuited her career arc well before now? Wouldn't this sentiment have colored her judgement on various cases in a negative manner? Wouldn't the infamously thorough Obama Vetting Squad[1] have sniffed out such an elitist air well before now and sent Ms. Sotomayor packing? Seriously.

People of color have to be on their P's and Q's to rise to such levels of achievement, especially in public service. This goes doubly for a woman. Again, if she was a closet racist, or "activist judge", there's no way she would have made it this far, so let's kill that nonsense. It's a really stoopid, intellectually lazy brand of Conservative opposition, and it's not likely to win the GOP any friends with that homogeneous Latino entity in upcoming elections. Cause you know, they all stick together and whatnot.

To me, Sotomayor's comment made plenty of sense. She's simply saying that her life's experiences (Hispanic, New Yorker, poor upbringing, no children, divorcee) combine to give her a different PoV than the typical Justice (and let's not forget, by an overwhelming majority these have been White men). This doesn't make her biased, it simply makes her different. This sentiment isn't any different than Ginsberg's Jewish background, Robert's privileged Midwestern childhood, or Alito's ethnic immigrant upbringing. Simply put, who you are does indeed color how you view the world. Apparently, this is only an issue when you're a minority though. Shocker!

I have little doubt that once the 3,000+ judgements issued by Sotomayor over the years are scoured, very little will be found that could possibly block her confirmation. But by delving into the all-to-typical racial politricks that landed them in the Capitol Hill's version of the D-League, the GOP is once again showing that fresh new ideas are a foreign concept.

Just think about how silly this all sounds. The country's demographics are rapidly changing, and the GOP got its clock cleaned in the last election (60% of Hispanics voted for Obama). So, when presented with a Latina, what's the only angle of dispute they can manage to scrounge up? Race. Yeah, that makes a whole lotta sense to me to. Who the hell is running that party, Wes Unseld? Elgin Baylor? Isaiah Thomas?[2]

For those of us honestly, and truly wishing and hoping for two viable parties, such nonsense is just another reminder of how unrealistic that notion is. One party is drunk with power, and the other's on life support but is too stoopid to even realize it.

Question: Do you agree with Obama's appointment of Sotomayor to the SCOTUS? Does the GOP have a legitimate gripe about the "Wise Latina" statement, or is this just the typical "Us vs Them" brand of racial politricks that America is supposed to be beyond by now?

[1] Yeah, that's a joke.

[2] I hope I didn't lose any non-sports fans with that reference. Someone break it down for em' just in case.

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