Open Thread: On Sonia Sotomayor

by Latoya Peterson

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Sonia Sotomayor is officially Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Some scattered thoughts:

1. Damn, I hated this process. Adam knocked it out of the park over on Tapped deconstructing the worst of the foolishness.

Jeffrey Rosen admits that he hasn’t “read enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them,” and he adds that he hasn’t “talked to enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.” Still, he’s comfortable putting into print anonymous evaluations of her character and intelligence, concluding that she’s possibly “not that smart.” Matthew Yglesias notes that “you don’t see a lot of dumb kids growing up in the South Bronx and winding up at Princeton.” What Matt doesn’t understand is that Sotomayor’s journey from BX to Princeton proves that she’s not that smart, because everyone knows that minorities only get to the Ivy League by not being white.

2. Hating this fake controversy:

“Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written,” said Wendy E. Long, court counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, in a statement issued today. “She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one’s sex, race and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.” [...]

In a speech at UC Berkeley in 2001, Sotomayor suggested that her background and heritage helped guide her decision-making. “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,” Sotomayor said.

That quote — and that speech — will be cited by opponents, who will charge that Sotomayor will not serve as the sort of neutral “umpire” that Chief Justice John Roberts claimed to be during his confirmation hearings in 2005. Instead, they will argue that Sotomayor will favor disadvantaged groups over others.

There is no such thing as neutral. Every justice brings their experiences with them and it approaches how they view and interpret the law.

And once again white does not translate into neutral or unbiased.

Now that’s off my chest, the floor is open.