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May 28, 2009

Sotomayor and Racial and Gender Discrimination

Look, there are not many ways to defeat a presidential nominee for the Supreme Court, especially when the President's party has control of the Senate. But once in a while you get lucky and the President nominates somebody who even his own people will run from. That's what happened with Harriet Miers and I think that's what can happen for Sonia Sotomayor. It's not that difficult:

Judge Sotomayor has given us no reason to believe she is capable of approaching cases involving white people or men without discriminating against them. In fact, she's given several reasons to believe that the opposite is true.

The two most obvious are her 2001 Berkley speech, in which she extols the special knowledge she has by virtue of her membership in minority identity groups and admonishes male lawyers to "work on" their experiences and attitudes so that they too can reach the heights of "enlightenment" which belong to certain minority identity groups.

This is disgusting racial bias that even a Democrat can recognize. The only question will be whether Republicans have the stones to point it out even as the White House "warns" us not to.

The second obvious example demonstrating that she might have a problem with racial bias is the New Haven firefighter case, Ricci v. DeStefano, in she and the other panel members tried to sweep their support of the city's discriminatory acts under the rug. They failed and the Supreme Court will be issuing a decision by the end of the term.

This example of support for reverse racism, a concept that some Democrats recognize and claim to oppose, needs more answers than we are getting. The Republicans on Senate Judiciary should at the very least ask questions about what exactly happened here. How did the panel decide that writing a one-paragraph decision was the appropriate and just thing to do in a case which raised clear and important constitutional issues.

Republicans who suggest that we don't want to have this argument now are preparing to let all this slide. But the bottom line is that Sotomayor's record on race and gender raises warning flags that she might not be able to approach cases with the objectivity we expect from judges. It is not unreasonable to demand some explanation before she is elevated to a lifetime position on the nation's highest court.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:54 AM

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