Monday, July 13, 2009

Pray for Sotomayor -- and That The Senators and Commentators Withhold Racist/Sexist Comments

I like Sonya Sotomayor.

I don't know her (although we share some mutual friends), but at least so far, she's a rock star to me. I love that her mom is in the front row at the hearings, I like the outfit, I like that she got on the plane on crutches. More, I like what I know about how she rules and how she speaks her mind. (Of course, like everyone else who is a pro-choice advocate, I'd like to know more about her positions on Roe and other abortion decisions.)

Last week, the Women's Media Center ran a montage of clips showing the racist and sexist coverage of the nomination. You have to watch it yourself to believe that people are saying these things in 2009: I was especially infuriated by G. Gordon Liddy (he of Watergate infamy) speculating she might not make good decisions if she was menstruating or, heavens worse, about to menstruate. (Mr. Liddy obviously doesn't live with women...or know that if he is to worry it's probably more appropriate to be concerned about hot flashes or perimenopausal rage...but I digress.)

I've only caught a tiny bit of the opening hearing; it seems like a lot of posturing to me. But to the Senators involved, I'm praying that you remember that the fact that she is a Latina and a woman is unworthy of being remarked upon in this hearing on her suitability for the High Court. And I think I will leave it up to the WMC to monitor Fox tonight; I don't think I can pray enough to keep them from offering sexist and racist coverage.


Joel Monka said...

Shouldn't we pray that SHE doesn't make any racist or sexist comments, either?

polybi said...

To a certain extent, the comments may be helpful in this regard.....for by thier own words do these people reueal themselves. Don @polybi2

Bill Baar said...

No kidding Joel.

Sotomayor had a whole stump speech based on it.

One thing about American big City Democratic Politics is everyone wears their "identity" on their lapels. It's a big source of pride, and behind closed doors the sport is derision of anyone not in the club.

Steve Caldwell said...

Joel and Bill,

You may want to check out this article by journalist Glenn Greenwald:

Unasked Question about Sam Alito

The opening part of this article quotes Justice Alito during his conformation hearings:

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country" . . . .

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

Greenwald suggests that Alito's statements are too different from Judge Sotomayor's statements about the impact of her ethnicity and gender on her as a judge.

He also suggests that Alito's ethnicity led him to reverse Ricci v. DeStefano because of his non-impartial sympathy with the plaintiff who shared his ethnic identity.

Justice Alito did so by ruling in favor of the Italian-American firefighters and finding that they were unlawfully discriminated against.

Alito did this even though the district court judge who heard all the evidence and the three-judge appellate panel ruled against the plaintiffs and dismissed this case.

But I guess being "sympathetic" instead of "judicial" is OK if one is a Republican Supreme Court Justice.

Joel Monka said...

Steve, I read the article, and listened to the testimony, and nowhere did I hear justice Alito say that his heritage as an Italian-American white male would allow him to make BETTER decisions than a woman or a different ethnic heritage. Judge Sotomayor said exactly that- BETTER.

"But I guess being "sympathetic" instead of "judicial" is OK if one is a Republican Supreme Court Justice." No, actually. But I'm on record saying Alito wasn't that good a choice, just as I've said Sotomayor isn't- but in both cases, I'm on record saying that nonetheless the justice should be quickly confirmed with a minimum of fuss, because that was the President's choice, and elections have consequences. I have been totally consistent on this through the last four administrations- can you say the same?

Bill Baar said...

Yes Steve, but Alito didn't say his heritage made him a better judge. Only that he doesn't check is humanity in at the door.

Federalist Society is blogging the hearings and here's what the Liberal Representative is saying over there: Louis Michael Seidman wrote,

Speaking only for myself (I guess that's obvious), I was completely disgusted by Judge Sotomayor's testimony today. If she was not perjuring herself, she is intellectually unqualified to be on the Supreme Court. If she was perjuring herself, she is morally unqualified. How could someone who has been on the bench for seventeen years possibly believe that judging in hard cases involves no more than applying the law to the facts? First year law students understand within a month that many areas of the law are open textured and indeterminate—that the legal material frequently (actually, I would say always) must be supplemented by contestable presuppositions, empirical assumptions, and moral judgments. To claim otherwise—to claim that fidelity to uncontested legal principles dictates results—is to claim that whenever Justices disagree among themselves, someone is either a fool or acting in bad faith. What does it say about our legal system that in order to get confirmed Judge Sotomayor must tell the lies that she told today? That judges and justices must live these lies throughout their professional carers?

Sotomayor blundered repeatedly with the statement her ethnicity made her better at the task.

Alito said his ethnicity gave him understanding.

Now Sotomayor not savvy enough to bail herself out of this mess and even the Liberal guy supposed to be defending her over at the Fed Society is disgusted with her flipping over to an impossible sort of impartiality...

She's a mess I fear, as is a good deal of what this Administration and Congress are giving America.