Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sotomayor Suggested Reading

I have things I want to say about the kerfuffle around Sotomayor's nomination, but I keep finding professional writers who say it better than I can.

David Brooks on that empathy thing. I love his reminder that a lack of empathy is a diagnostic marker of sociopaths.

Sherrilyn Ifill on the racism thing

One thing I do have to note about the hideous, racist quote (beyond the obvious: read the whole speech and then we'll talk) is this: she said she hoped a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male. Does anyone else see the adjective missing before the words white male? I know in the rest of that section, she was talking about wise men versus wise women. (I know because I've read the whole speech.) And in her very next sentence, she uses the adjective wise to describe two male justices. Still, as an appellate lawyer who is stuck with nothing more than the cold words on the page, the absence of that word "wise" in the disputed sentence sticks out to me. I, too, would hope the wise woman would make a better decision than the unwise (non-wise?) man.

If the plain words of the sentence are to be interpreted, there is nothing remotely racist about hoping the wise person would make a better decision than the person who cannot be described as wise. Maybe people want to argue that's not really what she meant and the wise was implied. But in my appellate world view, I'm stuck with the words as they appear on the page.


Burr Deming said...

In fairness, we should consider the arguments against the judge.

S said...

You about had me, Burr, until I read that entire post. I am so thrilled that people have started circulating G.W.H. Bush's words about Clarence Thomas.

Nobody ever had a problem with judges having empathy until Obama got to pick a judge.

BellsforStacy said...

A wise white man would reach a better conclusion than a Latina man.Thoughts?

And before you go too far, please note that I was completely opposed to the blocking of President Bush's nominees and I'm opposed to anyone blocking this current nominee. Elections have consequences. This is one of them.

BellsforStacy said...

Crud, I meant Latina woman.

I wish I could type today.

S said...

I kinda don't want to answer your question because I don't want to give credence to the idea that you can just switch white and latina and produce a statement with the same impact. Because you can't. That's just too simplistic an approach to race issues.

But, I would always expect the wise person to make a better decision than the not-wise person.

BellsforStacy said...

You can make it anyway you want. A wise black woman would reach a better conclusion than a white man. A wise Japanese man would make a better conclusion than a Korean woman. Etc. etc.

If we were really talking about the "wise" factor, why mention race at all?

I just don't like identity politics. Sotomayor is either qualified because of her individual accomplishments or she's not. Her race and sex should have nothing to do with it, if we are really going to be fair.

And I don't like the constant drum beat against white men. There are some that I don't like, but I don't like them for what they did / do individually, not because they are white and male.

S said...

I don't think we can really be fair if we ignore people's sex, race, ethnicity, religion. That's part of who they are, it informs so much of how they view the world. And we can't just pretend that 3 centuries of inequalities are all cured. They aren't and some of the lasting effects are so insidiuos, we would miss them if we tried to pretend we can all just ignore sex and race.

You know I disagree about sex not being a real issue in the make-up of the Supreme Court. I don't understand why the glaringly-obvious gender imbalance isn't more disturbing to more people. There is no longer any excuse for it.

Re: Sotomayor, there isn't any legitimate argument that she isn't qualified.

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