Judge Sotomayor a racist? Talk about the pot calling the kettle white!

Judge Sonia Sotomayor made history by becoming the first Latina to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). I did not expect to become as emotional as I did as I watched President Obama introduce her. For the many (not all) Latinos who support her, I assume that this is almost similar to the feeling that we as African Americans had with Obama’s DNC victory. I just know that it felt great to see the diversity of Obama’s administration from Biden to Obama to Sotomayor. While President George W. Bush had great diversity in his cabinet, I did not see diversity of thought so that’s why this is different. In any event, within an hour of my joy at Sotomayor’s nomination, I quickly had to move from offense to defense as the republican attack machine quickly went into action.

From former presidential candidates like Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh, Judge Sotomayor has been called everything from a sexist to a racist. At the heart of the accusations is a comment she made several years ago at UC Berkeley when she said “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.” With this comment, an entire career has been marred. New campaigns are being launched to destroy this woman and compare her to former KKK members like David Duke. I can’t say I’m surprised by these accusations because we know that the Republican party is still grasping at straws to pin something on President Obama and his actions. What we cannot allow, however, is to let these detractors forget their own racist past as well as that of the Supreme Court.

Critics of Sotomayor speak to her biases as if the Supreme Court has always held the best interests of everyone in the country at heart and not just white males. This is despite the fact that only 4 of the 110 justices over the years have been non-white males. If this is the case, let’s look at more of Sotomayor’s comments from that same speech. She also stated in that speech that “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.” Let us not also forget the battle for civil rights in this country and how so many cases were thrown out from what seemed to be not a supreme court, but a supremacist court. Such was the case with the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that declared blacks could not be U.S. citizens as well as the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896 that upheld separate but equal facilities in America.

Cases like these highlight how the Supreme Court was used to retain the white male racist and sexist power structure in America. Talk about affirmative action. To somehow compare or connect Sotomayor to this history is ridiculous at best. If Limbaugh, et al, want to talk about racists, they can simply look at the histories of politicians such as Jeff Sessions and Senator Byrd (a democrat) who are still serving in office now. This is indeed tragic and we can’t let this go by without vigorous defense of Sotomayor. It’s not like she called someone a nappy headed ho. Had she done that, Imus(t) conclude she would have been a shoe-in for her nomination with republicans.

While there are many white male Supreme Court justices who have helped to remove some of the most discriminatory rulings of the past, we cannot reread American history with rose-colored glasses. I don’t agree entirely with the wording Sotomayor used, however, I am in agreement with the overall tone of her speech, which most people won’t read because we unfortunately live in a society where we make up our minds quickly based on one sentence and change them slowly when lifelong facts are revealed. I guess this is the price to pay for living in a microwave society but we need more of a slow cooker approach on judging the judge as well as American history overall.

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2 Responses to “Judge Sotomayor a racist? Talk about the pot calling the kettle white!”

  1. Erin Says:

    I am tickled by your headline, as after posting on Fbook the E. J. Dionne, Jr. commentary on why she’s not a leftist as published by TWP, a friend who I know to be a conservative joked that the “racist’ commentary from the right was a “kick” to him.

    I had this to say: “Who are you telling? You may disagree with me, but by definition I don’t think she can practice racism at its root.

    The spin on this thing is something that I find to be quite peculiar in the way you might say, “Well, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” For, Judge Sotomayor is only a reflection of not only her cultural background but that of a dominant one here in the U.S. that intends to mediate and define her in its terms as a woman and a minority only to tell her once she’s mastered many of its finest institutions (housing, education, judicial, et cetera) that she must be too jaded due to her experiences as a woman and a minority to ever think to treat men or non-minorities fairly given select sound bites of words she’s said or written in veracity to her experiences…

    Such conjecture leads to the conundrum we find ourselves basking in as a nation yet again. Can’t we all just blame Twitter?!

  2. Linda Keith Says:

    O, I agree and disagree. As a woman who is one year older than Ms. Sotomayor and who also worked my way through a male-dominated profession (CPA), I agree with her that our experiences influence us. In fact, if you read the part of her speech directly after the ‘offending’ line, here is what she has to say:

    “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. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

    The challenge is that she really said she would “more often than not reach a better conclusion”. Maybe she meant ‘different’, or ‘just as valid’…but she said ‘better’. And yes, if you read the entire speech the flavor is not as ‘racist’ as that comment is.

    What concerns me more is her statement regarding the the 2002 decision by the Bush Administration which states that “the United States will no longer contribute to separate nongovernmental organizations which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” According to a Wikipedia citation (yes, I know, there must be a more authoritative reference!) Sotomayor held that the policy did not constitute a violation of equal protection, as “the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds.”

    I disagree that anti-abortion and pro-choice are ‘positions’ in this context. The Supreme Court has ruled that early-stage abortion is a right, and yet the federal government withholds funds to NGOs who ‘actively promote’ abortion as a method of family planning.

    I do not know exactly what ‘actively promote’ means, but I believe the result is that if there is any family planning counseling that even mentions abortion, that organization will receive none of our federal aid.

    That worries me. I remember coat-hangar abortions in this country. People died. Are we as a nation contributing to that when we follow Ms. Sotomayor’s thinking?

    Meanwhile, racism is indeed alive and well in all of its forms, including against white males. My caucasion son’s supervisor is an African American woman who discriminates against the white males she supervisors. Like women and people of color before him, he has made the decision not to rock the boat so his hours don’t get cut. He is putting up with it and she is getting away with it.

    All of this to say, it is not ‘black and white’. Not everyone who objects to Ms. Sotomayor’s comments about her gender or ethnicity leading her to better decisions than a white male is racist, or rabidly Republican. And some of us are as concerned about a ‘Catholic’ majority on the Supreme Court as anything else.

    That said, I am delighted she was nominated, hopeful that when confirmed as I believe she will be that she will bring a wonderful perspective, uphold the rule of law and protect and defend the constitution of the United States. That is the job.

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