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.
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.