Republicans’ Malicious Accusation Against Sotomayor

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Obama’s choice of Bronx-born Judge Sonia Sotomayor is now being challenged by ideologically, hypocritical hate-mongering conservatives who claim she’s a racist who represents “judicial activism.”

Sotomayor, who’s of Puerto-Rican descent, is being attacked for a comment she made during a 2001 speech at the University of California, at Berkeley, School of Law.

One isolated comment, taken out of context in a lengthy speech, is being used to claim she is racist, 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.”

Conservative commentator, Ann Coulter pounced, saying: “"I'm not saying she's a racist, but the statement sure is.”

What does that mean? Paradoxically, while Coulter and her conservative clan want to brand Judge Sotomayor “racist” they say nothing of their vanilla-white GOP Party that’s so devoid of any real diversity. I suppose the token nomination of Michael Steel at the party chairman is supposed to blur that ugly reality.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is also crying racism claiming, "Imagine if a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman,’ wouldn't they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw." 

One of the worst things here is: the lack of context relating to what judge Sotomayor was talking about. The fact of the matter is a significant portion of the judge’s speech dealt with issues peculiar to minorities and women.  The judge wasn’t implying that a Latina woman was inherently smarter that a white man on all issues.  Her statement was discussing a particular philosophical question regarding gender and minority topics.

Here’s a longer edited excerpt from Judge Sotomayor’s speech: “Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education.”

“Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment. Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences….our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement….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.”

Clearly, the judge is talking about understanding issues that are more indicative of the experiences of women and minorities. Is it odd to say a Black or female person would, most likely, understand issues distinctive to the lives of women and Blacks better than a white man? Put in its proper context there’s no racism there at all. The racism here is by those provocateurs from the right, like pill-popping, half-wit: Rush Limbaugh.

 The racial animus of those on the conservative side is exemplified by Rush Limbaugh, who uses his program to stroke the flames of intolerance. Crying racism, he claimed, “The libs of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one..."
Republicans whining about racism is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

Only in the demented minds of people like Limbaugh and those Republicans who’ve been attacking the progressive legislations that came from those epic battles of the Civil Rights Era, can President Barack Obama be a “reverse racist.”

So, what’s really going on here? Well, many Republicans are still reeling, floundering, and groping in the dark trying to find their way back to the power they lost last November.  Like wounded children they now lash out with absurdities and fantasies bellowing about Obama being a “socialist” or “fascist;” the latter claim being made by Glenn Beck.

Conservatives are trying to regain their footing amid the political quicksand they find themselves sinking in.

However, there’s another battle taking place here: an attempt to stop a judicial nominee who will be a counterbalance to the rightward swing the Supreme Court has taken with the last two Supreme Court picks of Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

This battle highlights the conservative’ dream of taking America backwards, to the days when abortion was illegal and Black people sat on the back of the bus. That dream of a homogenously white America is why they continue to complain about the danger of “activist judges.” For conservatives, “judicial activism” is alright if it supports their warped view of America and the world.

Some, like Pat Buchanan, say Judge Sotomayor hasn’t distinguished herself in her legal profession.  Judge Sotomayer is just as qualified as any judge now on the Supreme Court. She graduated summa cum laude, in 1976, from Princeton. In 1979, she earned her Jurist Doctor degree from Yale, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Sotomayer has worked for 30 years at several levels of the legal profession.  She served as an Assistant District Attorney under Manhattan County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau from 1979 to 1984.

Ironically, this same woman “conservatives” tell us is too “liberal” was nominated to serve on the federal bench by George H.W. Bush. She’s the first Hispanic to serve on the federal bench in New York.

The conservative’s empty charges of racism and “judicial activism” against Judge Sotomayor are really symptomatic of their rising fear of waning power.
After the last eight years, that’s a welcome sign.

Colin Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News’s Editorial Board.

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