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I’m All for a Wise Latina

June 1, 2009

All one needs to look at to decide whether Mme Sonia Sotomayor should become a Supreme Court judge is her decision on the Ricci case. The French Cowboy can see it from the other side of the Atlantic that Sotomayor’s judgement in Ricci v DeStefano was based on the notion that race (whether through genes or life experiences) influences your intellectual ability into the negative direction. Just read what she said about the firefighters’ test:

[I]f your test is always going to put a certain group at the bottom of the pass rate so they’re never ever going to be promoted, and there is a fair test that could be devised that measures knowledge in a more substantive way, then why shouldn’t the city have an opportunity to try and look and see if it can develop that?

Evidently, Mme Sotomayor believes that it is possible to devise exams that test intellectually acquired knowledge while discriminating against certain ethnic groups (non-whites, to be precise). Now she’s free to hold such ideas, even if any white person who would be silly enough to have them would be cast away as a racist. The problem is that Sotomayor allows her thinking in racial categories to influence her professional judgements. Indeed she seems to believe that your ethnic background will not only influence your scores on a firefighter test but also how you interpret the law: “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.” It’s the famous empathy Monsieur Obama has been looking for – apparently successfully.

Accoring to Obama, it is not enough to know the laws in order to make a good judgement. One also has to be able to know “what it’s like to be a young teenage mom”, “African American, or gay” etc because whether something is legal and illegal doesn’t depend on the deed but on who did it to whom. It is the contrary of what Mme Sotomayor will have to swear doing during the admission ceremony: “I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”

That Sotomayor is not going to accept the Constitution as a framework her judgements will have to confirm but as a set of bendable and adjustable rules that have to adapt to the direction political winds are blowing is no secret either. She said herself that policies are made in courts and, to point out how she doesn’t mind this at all, added a sarcastic comment (“I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law.” [Laughs]).

The French Cowboy is all for diversity and “compelling life stories” (Viva Justice Thomas!) and it would be great to have an actually “wise Latina” at the Supreme Court. But welcoming a judge who is picked because of her ability to have “empathy” for the underdog of choice is making a farce of the concept of equality before the law. With each passing day President Obama looks more eager to undermine the very “rule of law” he loves to evoke when he blames his predecessor for his own inability to cope with the nation’s problems.

Republicans are proving themselves to be the irrelevant push-overs Democrats want them to be if they don’t have the guts to resist Sotomayor’s admission. Allegedly, the GOP will lose “the Hispanic vote” if they fight Sotomayor. How stupid do Republicans think Hispanics are that they believe them to be uncapable of distinguishing between arguments based on judicial philosophy and those based on brainless racism? How many voters did Democrats lose fighting Miguel Estrada whom they mistreated for two years precisely because they feared him to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court judge? Republicans could use the nomination of Mme Sotomayor as an opportunity to point out what’s wrong with the concept of “judicial activism” and “empathy” as a prerequisite for a judge – and even win the argument against a popular Democratic president. But as things are looking now this is just wishful thinking.

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