Boy, oh boy! This is more fun than poking a stick into an anthill! Obama's got the right idea, instead of using the carrot-and-stick method to lead the conservatives along with the rest of America by nominating Judge Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice, he simply gave the conservatives the carrot and the stick, apparently with the full knowledge that the conservatives would throw the carrot away because they think it's poisoned and would proceed to beat themselves to death with the stick, all the while accusing the liberals of doing it to them!
And yep! That's precisely what the conservatives are doing! Br'er Obama gave Br'er Fox News a tar baby to beat up on, and the dividends will pay off for us liberals in every election for the coming generation thanks to the burgeoning Latino population. Yeah! Go-Rushboy-Go-Rushboy-Go! Whoo-Hoo!
Lemme see here – it's been said that she's been appointed only because of affirmative action, because she's Latina. Of course, the fact that she has more federal judicial experience and a wider range of overall experience than any Supreme Court nominee in the past century can't have anything to do with it, right? Hmm. A quick Google search shows that Karl Rove supported Bush appointee for SCOTUS, the oh-so-experienced-and-capable Harriet Miers. So did Pat Robertson, and Alberto Gonzales, Newt Gingrich – and Bush and Cheney, of course.
Then there's the complaint that a high degree of empathy shouldn't be considered in choosing a Supreme Court Justice. Here's something to consider: "One research study conducted by Richard Boyatzis of 2,000 supervisors, middle managers and executives at 12 different organizations revealed [Emotional Quotient] separated high performers from average ones in 14 of 16 competencies. An even larger multi-national study of 286 organizations demonstrated that over 80% of the general competencies that identify superior performance depend on high emotional intelligence more so than pure cognitive abilities."
Furthermore, it's known that the lower one's level of congitive empathy, the more likely one is to bully, to denigrate others, and eventually to commit crimes. The flip side of this fact is that the higher one's level of ability to 'know how the other guy feels', the less likely one is to commit crime. Now, do we really want someone on the highest court in the land who has a low level of empathy? Come to think of it, one must wonder about Alberto Gonzales' level of empathy.
"Judges make policy." Hey, does that mean we can get rid of Congress? No, Judge Sotomayor is right on this one, too! As the hated-by-conservatives Media Matters points out: "Moreover, Sotomayor's [statement that the Court of Appeals is where policy is made] is in line with federal appellate courts' "policy making" role as described by the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2005) and explained by numerous legal experts.
University of Texas-Austin law professor Frank B. Cross has similarly written that "[t]he circuit courts play by far the greatest legal policymaking role in the United States judicial system." Indeed, according to Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Sotomayor's remark "seems to be nothing more than an observation that, as a practical matter, many policy disputes are resolved in the federal courts of appeals. This is an indisputably true observation." Adler has been honored by the Federalist Society, advised the Cato Supreme Court Review, and strongly supported the nominations of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito Jr.
In fact, if one looks at one of Dave Nalle's own references in his article decrying the selection of Judge Sotomayor, you can find this telling statement: "Sotomayor has been criticized by some conservatives for saying in a talk at Duke University that appeals court judges make policy, but her writings typically do not stray from the law."
It's also been said that Judge Sotomayor is (gasp) a racist because she once said she "hoped a wise Latina could arrive at a better conclusion than a white man [who had not lived the same life or shared the same experience]." Is this really a racist statement, or a statement of fact? Remember, it was an all-white-male court that ruled in Plessy v. Furgeson that it was lawful to arrest a mixed-race man (7/8 white, 1/8 black) for sitting in the all-white section of a train. Would a judge of a minority race have agreed with that decision?
Would a minority-race judge have sided with the Dred Scott decision? Or how about Yick Wo v. Hopkins wherein the Supreme Court let stand a California Supreme Court decision that allowed a San Francisco board of supervisors to drive out Chinese-run laundries?
Clearly, there is a need to have a Supreme Court that is heterogeneous, a mixture not only of gender (see Lilly Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. from just last year) but of race as well.
Conservatives will say that those times have passed, but have they? Really? If that were the case, then how could we have GOP congressmen whose statements are unquestioningly racist, and who are even now accusing Sotomayor of being racist? To wit: Former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo said that "Miami is a 'third world country' [because of the number of Latinos there]", criticized presidential candidates for “pandering” by participating in a Spanish-language debate, and accused immigrants of “pushing drugs, raping kids, and destroying lives.”
Then there's Rush, who says that both Obama and Sotomayor are "reverse racists." Good ol' boy Rush is now a veritable bastion standing strong against racism, and maybe, just maybe this Dear Leader of the Republican Party could actually claim that the song "Barack the Magic Negro" that he liked to play on his radio show was not actually racist — unless one Googles his own statements like "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?" and "I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark." and "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back"(to an African American female caller). Yes, these comments were from the purported leader of the conservatives, Rush Limbaugh (and not that monument to tokenism named Michael Steele).
The conservatives on BC can deny it all they want, but the reality of the matter is that the GOP is far more attractive to, and supportive of, racists. Most of you know it, too, but none of you dare admit it. Sure, there are some among the Dems who are racist (especially three decades ago, as I can personally attest), but how many are elected officials? I mean, look at the new ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Republican Jeff Sessions, who once called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases.
Can we imagine Democratic support for such people? Hardly. But there's still plenty of support for racists inside the Republican party. I'll see it once more when I travel back to the Mississippi Delta next month.
In conclusion, then, I think it's obvious that Judge Sonia Sotomeyer's most notable achievement to date (except for ending the baseball strike) is by possibly marking the newest milestone on the Republican party's road to marginalization.