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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Causes > Social Justice > Too bad conservative critics of Sotomayor can’t be honest about pulling the race card

Too bad conservative critics of Sotomayor can’t be honest about pulling the race card

LatinaLista — When Sonia Sotomayor was named this week by President Obama as his choice for the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, everyone knew that conservatives would scream and holler.
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The cover page of the Berkeley speech delivered by Sotomayor and from which the now infamous quote was drawn from.
They haven’t disappointed.
Since these conservatives can’t dispute Sotomayor’s experience — 17 years on the federal bench makes her the most experienced appointee to the Supreme Court in 75 years —

“Well, the thing that is so different about Sonia Sotomayor is that she has a lot of street-level experience with the criminal justice system. She was a prosecutor in New York City. She was a trial judge — a federal trial judge, in New York City. That’s something that none of the justices in the Supreme Court have done — is had the experience with juries, with defendants, handling the traffic in a courtroom. But the thing that makes her such a formidable choice is that she also has the intellectual achievements and that — that people expect in a Supreme Court justice — the distinguished academic career and a decade on the federal court of appeals in New York, where she has a record that is pretty much unassailable.”

Supreme Court Scholar and CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
and they can’t refute her impoverished upbringing by a single mother in public housing, the conservative critics of Obama’s appointment have latched onto an issue that they themselves are becoming more and more notorious for utilizing for their own political benefit — the race card.


Conservatives would like to give the impression that their opposition to Sotomayor has nothing to do with the fact that she is Latina but that she practices “identity politics” and is guilty of “reverse racism” because of a statement she made during a 2001 Berkeley lecture, ironically entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice.”
The now infamous statement that has been taken out of context and regurgitated and vilified around conservative airwaves and blogosphere, was: “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.”
Because of that one statement, Newt Gingrich branded her a racist and called for her to withdraw her nomination. Ann Coulter appeared on Good Morning America and labeled the statement racist, along with, Rush Limbaugh who said Sotomayor was committing reverse racism by that remark. Washington Post op-ed columnist, George Will, went even further when he declared that Sotomayor: embraces identity politics,” including the notion that “members of a particular category can be represented — understood, empathized with — only by persons of the same identity.”
For starters, given the lecture in which this statement was included there’s no rationale for calling the statement racist or that it is proof of reverse racism. After all, the title of the lecture was “A Latina Judge’s Voice.”
The entire speech was about being Latina and its definite impact on how it factored into the kind of successful woman she eventually became.
I find it ironic that the C crew (Conservative Crew) would find fault with Sotomayor for being honest enough in calling out the fact that she is Latina.
It is an example of how each of us defines ourselves, especially if we are of a particular ethnicity. Ann Coulter actually does the same thing, and by her own definition, has uttered racist statements since in the following example her usage was meant to be a derogatory descriptor.

That Sotomayor refers to the life experiences of a Latina as factoring into the decisions she makes is common sense. Our life experiences do differentiate us and they are what have molded who we become. There’s no clearer example than the movie Slumdog Millionaire.
The main character could only answer with certainty those questions whose answers he had learned throughout his childhood. An answer to any other question was only a guess.
Furthermore, the manner, unlike Coulter’s, in which Sotomayor used the terms Latina and white were not used in a derogatory manner. It was merely a reflection on the differences that the two would bring when rendering a judgement.
To say that she is practicing “identity politics” begs for a better argument than what Mr. Will offers in his piece.
It wasn’t that long ago that we discovered how the prior administration made it a point to specifically use “identity politics” when selecting immigration judges. Their choices were explicitly based on the fact that they were Republicans. Yet, Mr. Will, Ms. Coulter, Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Limbaugh didn’t bother to point out how this was definitely an example of “identity politics” and in its own way — reverse racism.
Vice president Biden sent out an email today asking people to sign an online petition in show of support for Judge Sotomayor.
As we learn more and more about Judge Sotomayor, it becomes increasingly clear that she is the kind of judge that this Supreme Court needs — not because she is Latina but because her life experiences make her the kind of candidate that can implement justice with reason.

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Comment(23)

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    May 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Was there ever any doubt that conservatives play the race card? The irony is that despite all the noise Sotomayor will be appointed. I’m guessing at least half of the Republican Senators will vote to confirm her.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    May 28, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Those opposed to her are doing so because of her racist statements about white males and her own words that indicate that she will base her opinions and decisions on ethic politics and biasness. That isn’t what a Supreme Court Judge is supposed to do. They are to adhere strictly to our laws under the Constitution.

  • Avatar
    Nelli
    May 28, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    “………..and they can’t refute her impoverished upbringing by a single mother in public housing,……”
    What’s to refute. Refuting it is denying what she claims to be, and no one has asserted that she’s nothing less. What conservatives are saying is that this has little to do with being qualified for the Supreme Court. You and others speciously claim that good judgment and understanding of the law, the only real qualifications for SCOTUS are insufficient, that somehow being socially deprived and poor is a qualifier. Claims to poverty and single motherhood are shared by millions of Americans but few would put that on their resume as qualifiers for employment in any profession or trade. The people don’t want an empath, they want a judge.
    As far as single outrageous statement canceling one’s ticket for the job, that’s as it should be. A SCOTUS should be purer than Caesar’s wife, as character IS a qualifier for the SCOTUS. Not one white man candidate for SCOTUS would get away with the statement that you so cavalierly dismiss as irrelevant. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Live with it and pick someone who hasn’t screwed up by opening their big mouth and put their foot in. Don’t blame the conservatives for the stupidity of Ms. Sotomayor, but put the blame squarely on Ms. Sotomayor, not the messenger. You take the approach of blaming the messenger because you have no rational argument with which to defend her. Swallow and take a deep breath. Sometimes you can’t win.

  • Avatar
    hissy
    May 29, 2009 at 6:47 am

    So…was her mother married? Did she get welfare…medicaid? food stamps? I am unclear as to how they managed “as a single mother”.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    May 29, 2009 at 8:57 am

    The race card is being pulled by the democrats in arguing that it is necessary to pick someone based on their ethnicity and that because she’s a minority, she can get away with saying racist things.

  • Avatar
    Irma
    May 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Sotomayor’s father was married to her mother. He died – so her mother worked
    6 days a week to raise her. Widows are ‘single’ mothers.
    Sotomayor is qualified to be a Supreme
    Court Justice. If she were a white male
    or woman, the conservatives would be
    applauding her intellectual prowess ie.
    Summa Cum Laude from Princeton and Yale Law School.
    Princeton doesnt give the Summa Cum Laude distinction to degree as though it were candy. One has to EARN it by basically making almost straight As
    for four years. I presume some of the
    standing Supreme court justices were also Summa Cum laude from their
    colleges – but I cant say this for a fact.
    What conservatives dont seem to hear is that Sotomayor comes from the projects
    AND is more than qualified in terms of
    judicial experience, ligation experience
    and yes intellectual prowess. What they
    FAIL to understand is that Sotomayor
    views her upbringing in the projects
    as PART of who she is. She will bring
    ALL of herself to the Supreme Court
    Bench- not just Princeton and Yale
    Law School But that is no different what
    ANYONE ELSE would do. Scalia, for
    example has made no apologies for
    his Catholic upbringing. That Catholic view is reflected in his rulings.
    If it is okay for Clarence Thomas to
    be proud of his blackness, and Scalia to revel in his Italian American upbringing-
    why is it not okay for Sotomayor to say
    “yeah, I am a Latina, and that is part of what I have to offer .”

  • Avatar
    Irma
    May 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Okay, so I looked up the academic records of the current Supreme Justices.
    Only John Roberts and Antonin
    Scalia graduates summa cum laude from their colleges (Harvard and Georgetown).
    I think most people would agree that
    Princeton summa cum laude is just as good as theirs.
    All three (Roberts, Scalia and Sotomayor) served in an editorial capacity for their law schools law reviews.
    I also found something from Samuel
    Alito’s confirmation hearings where he made no bones about admtting that
    the immigrant background of his family influenced his decisions on the judicial bench.
    Why is it okay for him a white male and not for Sotomayor a Hispanic female?
    Something said at Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings will either silence Sonia Sotomayor’s right-wing critics or expose their hypocrisy for what it really is.
    Sen. Tom Coburn had asked Alito to discuss how his personal experiences show that “he cared for the little guy,” Alito said that his family’s experience as immigrants influenced the way he viewed immigration cases.
    “Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position… 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.” from the Auburn Journal

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    May 29, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    cookie :
    Those opposed to her are doing so because of her racist statements about white males and her own words that indicate that she will base her opinions and decisions on ethic politics and biasness. That isn’t what a Supreme Court Judge is supposed to do. They are to adhere strictly to our laws under the Constitution.
    If you read this article apparently you didnt understand. Ni papa. lol!

  • Avatar
    Woodruff
    May 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I can imagine a supplicant for justice coming before the SCOTUS and addressing Soltomayor as follows “….but your honor, please show me mercy because you too were poor and brought up by a single mother…. and by the way, my mother was Latino. That alone must be good for a re-trial.” Or maybe they’ll use another ploy, and it will go like this. “Your honor, I too remember the richness of my deprived childhood, where we had little to eat, holes in my pants and shoes, no summer camp and a father that beat me. I’m lucky though, because that’s a great ploy for sympathy when I grow up and apply for work.” Yeah, everybody should grow up under hardship conditions that produce psychological scarring. The idea that adversity should be a prerequisite for SCOTUS is stupid. This may not be playing the race card, but it sure is pulling the sympathy card,….. pathetically.

  • Avatar
    Wilbur
    May 29, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    “Our life experiences do differentiate us and they are what have molded who we become.”
    ….yes, but a judge is supposed to make every effort to discard his/her biases to give a verdict based upon the law, not exploit their prejudices to establish a verdict. Suppose you were a juror trying a rich man. If you had been brought up poor and sometime in your childhood you had been abused by a wealthy man, would you be entitled to apply your past experience in determining a verdict in such a case? Is this part of the richness of experience that should be drawn from in making a determination? In order to be fair, you’d have to discard this richness of experience. A judge swears to mete out justice impartially to the rich and poor alike. How is this possible if a judge surrenders to her biases?

  • Avatar
    Maria Rosa
    May 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I am a Latina I live in upstate New York. I was born the same time as Sonia Sotomayor with the exception that she was born in New York City in 1954 and I was born in Puerto Rico and migrated to the Mainland in 1959. Sotomayor is the product of both her environment and her educational experiences much of it at private schools both catholic elementary and the ivy league colleges she attended. She represents the generation of children whose parents migrated from Puerto Rico after WWII and the Korean War. Her mother was a remarkable woman and some of her nursing education had been paid for by both Sonia and her brother from the social security checks they received after the father died. The generation of Puerto Ricans raised during this period in the United States were born during a time of intense racial strife in this country. However, Sonia was fortunate to have gotten the opportunities that she did and she did well. Certainly, the private educational experiences and attendance at Princeton and Yale helped her to achieve success in her life, but she had a excellent role model in her mother, an educated woman a registered nurse that provided the basis for her success. Yes, our experiences as wise latina women would make us more often than not to have a perspective different than a white male. But this has been taken out of context and her entire text on a “A Latina Judge’s Voice has to be read for a better understanding of what she meant.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    May 30, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I used her own words to form my opinion of her. I repeat, any judge whether they be of the Supreme Court or otherwise is sworn not to allow their personal experiencies/bias, ethnicity or gender influence their decision making as a judge. By her own words Sotomayer wouldn’t be honoring her sworn oath.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    May 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    For the record, ANY judge including white ones are violating their oath to render decisions based only on our laws and the Constitution if they instead allow personal bias/experiences or their gender to enter into their decision making process. If they openly admit that they do that they need to step down from their position and anyone who admits to that before gaining the position should be automatically disqualified.
    This has nothing to do with who they are or how proud they are of their roots and upbringing. It has no place on a judge’s bench when rending decisions based on law as what they are sworn to do.

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    June 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    cookie :
    I used her own words
    E
    taken out of context from a speech she gave.
    to form my opinion of her. I repeat, any judge whether they be of the Supreme Court or otherwise is sworn not to allow their personal experiencies/bias, ethnicity or gender influence their decision making as a judge.
    E
    Then you are also against the other supreme court judges who said the same thing, correct?
    By her own words Sotomayer wouldn’t be honoring her sworn oath.
    E
    Then neither are the other judges.
    You guys that are against her should come clean. You hate her because she is Hispanic and Obama selected her, because she wasent hated when Bush Sr. selected her! Hypocrites!

  • Avatar
    irma
    June 2, 2009 at 10:07 am

    ” If they openly admit that they do that they need to step down from their position and anyone who admits to that before gaining the position should be automatically disqualified. ”
    So cookie, if they withhold their true views before gaining the position then they
    should not be disqualified ?
    I guess you liked John Robert’s appointment. He has been an activist
    judge even though during his appointment proceeding he said he would NOT do that.
    Honesty, I suppose is a quality you view as NOT important for a judge?

  • Avatar
    cookie
    June 2, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I read everything that Sotomayer said, so no I didn’t take her words out of context. It was pretty clear was she was saying.
    Yes, I am opposed to ANY judge who allows his personal bias, background or gender influence their decison making. It should strictly be based on our laws and Constitution.
    It has nothing to do with her being Hispanic, race card puller. As I said, my objection applies to white judges with the same train of thought.

  • Avatar
    irma
    June 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Cookie,
    If you have the same objections to
    majority judges making similar statements,
    then you should call now for the resignation
    of Roberts, Alito and Thomas.
    Be consistent please.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    June 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

    FYI, advocates for dissolution of our laws regarding immigration, the other judges didn’t insult the competence of the white male judicary. And unlike Soltomayor, they didn’t say anything that would imply that they would abandon the goal of dispensing justice impartially. Furthermore, none of them said that they feel that it would be their job to legislate law, unlike the objectionable implication of Ms. Soltomayor.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    June 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

    “I guess you liked John Robert’s appointment. He has been an activist
    judge even though during his appointment proceeding he said he would NOT do that.”
    Activist judges spin the law to reflect their personal beliefs, i.e. if the outcome specified by the law does not match up with what the social engineers of the day say it should be, then they have the authority to make legislation according to their personal beliefs. Roberts is a strict Constitutionalist. Activists are people like Obama who believe that if the law doesn’t match up to the political opinion of the day, they have the authority to ignore the letter of the law. They judge by their feelings, not by Constitutional validity. Justice is never blind as it should be for them. Name a case in which Roberts has failed to enforce the Constitution as written. We already know that Soltomayor believes that the courts should make law (policy).

  • Avatar
    Wilhemina
    June 4, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    How ironic, it was probably some stupid racist white man’s financial endowment that was used for the ungreatful Sotomayor’s scholarship. Now she repays this stereotypically ignorant character by deriding his judgment. LOL.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    June 5, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Irma, I am not familiar with most of the Supreme Court Judge’s decisions who are on the bench right now. It isn’t something that most of us Americans follow since there are so many more pressing issues that have been facing our country of late.
    I may be wrong but I don’t think an American calling for the resignation of a SCJ is in our power anyway.
    We can however, give our input to our Senators on any nominated candidates when a seat is open on the bench.
    As I said, If Alito, Roberts, etc. had made the same statements as Sotomayer has before they became SCJ’s I would be giving negative feedback to my Senators about them also.

  • Avatar
    irma
    June 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Here is an example of why I say John
    Roberts will prove to be an activist judge.
    He wants to change current law to suit his
    personal beliefs. Below is a nice synopsis I found on the internet:
    Issue-Areas of Greatest Concern
    Here are some of the areas of greatest concern from Roberts’ record (for specific case examples, scroll down):
    As a partisan lawyer for the Bush Sr. and Reagan administrations, Roberts threatened:
    Civil rights by asking the Supreme Court to severely limit the ability of district courts to desegregate public schools 1, and working to ensure the Voting Rights Act could not be used to remedy many cases of actual discrimination against minority votes. 2
    Women’s rights by fighting for a law barring doctors from even discussing reproductive options in many cases, 3 and arguing that Roe. vs. Wade should be “overruled.” 4
    Free speech by arguing to the Supreme Court that political speech that some considered offensive did not deserve First Amendment protections. The Court rejected his claim. 5
    Religious liberty by arguing to the Supreme Court that public schools could force religious speech on students. Again, the Court rejected the argument. 6
    As a corporate lawyer, Roberts threatened:
    Community and environmental rights by working to strike down new clean-air rules and filing a brief for the National Mining Association, arguing that federal courts could not stop mountaintop-removal mining in West Virginia, even as it devastated local communities. 7
    Workers’ rights by helping Toyota to successfully evade the Americans with Disabilities Act and fire workers for disabilities they suffered over time because of the requirements of their jobs. 8
    Public interest regulations by helping Fox News challenge FCC rules that prevented the creation of news media monopolies. 9
    In his short two years as a judge, Roberts has threatened:
    Individual rights by rejecting the civil rights claims brought on behalf of a 12-year-old girl who had been handcuffed, arrested and taken away by the police for eating a single french fry in the D.C. Metro. 10
    Environmental protections when the dissent he wrote on an Endangered Species Act case, had it been in the majority, would have struck the Act down as unconstitutional in many cases, and would have threatened a wide swath of workplace, public safety and civil rights protections. 11
    Human Rights by voting to strike down the Geneva Conventions as applied to prisoners that the Bush administration chose to exempt from international law. 12
    Judge Roberts is now in a position to CHANGE law – it is clear where he stands on many issues personally.
    As a young lawyer, he ACTIVELY tried
    to change the laws. Now that he has the power to do it, you think he won’t?
    Please…………

  • Avatar
    Conservative Latina
    July 10, 2009 at 11:13 am

    “Conservatives would like to give the impression that their opposition to Sotomayor has nothing to do with the fact that she is Latina but that she practices “identity politics” and is guilty of “reverse racism” because of a statement she made during a 2001 Berkeley lecture, ironically entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice.”
    Yummmm blanket statements!!!!! Are you saying that conservatives (not just a few, but all of them as you are implying) are against Sotomayor because she is Latina? Talk about hypocrisy, we hate when any other group puts stereotypes on Latinos, but we feel free to turn around and make generalizations.
    Personally, I’m Puerto Rican and sure it’s nice that she’s the first Latina. However, what we SHOULD be looking at is not her race, but her qualifications. Yes, she’s qualified. However, she shares a completely different judicial philosophy than I do – which is why I’m not a fan.
    And let’s be honest look at Clarence Thomas – nominated by a conservative to be the only black male on the court and Democrats devoured him. Not because he wasn’t qualified (he too graduated from Yale) but I’m gonna guess it has something to do with his politics. Republicans are doing what they should do regardless of candidate – vet them!
    To Irma: Thomas is about as far from an activist as they get! LOL I think you are confusing “activist” with “following the Constitution”. You seem to want progressives who will re-interpret the Constitution, which is ridiculous.
    As far as the term racism – both sides need to eliminate it from the vocabulary this instant.

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