Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Judging of Ms. Sotomayor

If you've been watching the news or listening to the radio this week you would have heard that Obama has found his nominee to replace Justice David Souter. To most political junkies it wasn't a shock that he chose the female, Latino, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

"I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity,”... I will seek someone who understands that justice is not about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.”

“I view that quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles an essential ingredient for arriving at just decision and outcomes."
-Barack Obama

I find it interesting that the President doesn't seem to have a great opinion on the role of the constitution and it's place in the modern judicial system. He seems to care more about whether the Supreme Court shows "empathy" when deciding outcomes of cases rather than the direct application of the law.

There is either the law, and equal justice under the law; meaning non-partial interpretation of the law. Or there is a sort of bending the rules in empathy towards specific circumstances which seems to be the big ideal that Obama preaches.

His nomination of Sotomayor describes a lot about his views on the constitution and the role it should play in the government today. At a conference at Duke University Judge Sotomayor made the following comments....

“All of the legal defense funds out there—they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience. Because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law. [Laughs] I know. I know. [Laughter] I’m not promoting it, I’m not advocating it, I’m…y’know.”
-Sonia Sotomayor

It is clear that she is excited for this appointment and the opportunity she has to go and make some PERMANANT policy changes.

The Biggest problem I have with Sotomayor is her ideas about the role of race in America today. I understand that our nation's past when dealing with racial issues has been one the is troubled at best. But having said that we've had two African-Americans appointed to the Supreme Court and we've just elected our first African-America President. The nation has come a long way in becoming the color blind society that was so greatly desired by Dr. King.
Ms. Sotomayor was quoted as saying the follwing...

"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."
- Sonia Sotomayor

If we were to reverse that statement and switch around the races to say... I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often that not reach a BETTER conclusion that a Latino woman who hasn't lived that life. Would you not say that is a racist comment?

I think that this comment aligns directly with the view that the current President has about the same topic of race and it's role in America. But according to Jesse Jackson Reverse Racism is okay right? It is okay for minorities to be racist because they don't have the power to act upon their feelings... Well if the President of the United States isn't the most powerful postition in the world and a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court isn't a power filled position... I don't know what is.

In the end I know that Sotomayor is a future Supreme Court Justice. I'm just sick of the double standard that exists today in the Democratic Party and with liberals. When Clarence Thomas was appointed to the supreme court this was written in the NY Times about the appointment.

"As the nation waits to learn more about Clarence Thomas, the questions will concern not so much his talent but his character. Even his rise from poverty and racial isolation will be less interesting than how that experience has affected his regard for other Americans and whether he understands how their lives and rights are affected by law and official action."

Conversly this was written in the NY Times about Ms. Sotomayor...

"It’s impossible not to be moved by Judge Sotomayor’s story... Her legal experience is impressive and wide-ranging... In her rulings, Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly displayed the empathy Mr. Obama has said he is looking for in a justice... If Judge Sotomayor joins the court, it will be a special point of pride for Hispanic-Americans — as it was for Jews, blacks and women before them to see one of their own take a seat on the highest tribunal in the land."

Yeah that sounds about right don't you think?