Posted by: Ophelia | May 26, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor nominated for the Supreme Court

Feministing has a link to the Scotusblog’s discussion of her record.

The New York Times article discusses the implications of her ethnicity:

Judge Sotomayor has said her ethnicity and gender are important factors in serving on the bench, a point that could generate debate. “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,” she said in a 2002 lecture.

She also once said at a conference that a “court of appeals is where policy is made,” a statement that has drawn criticism from conservatives who saw it as a sign of judicial activism. Judge Sotomayor seemed to understand at the time that she was making a controversial statement, adding that, “I know this is on tape, and I should never say that, because we don’t make law.”

Conservatives quickly pointed to such statements after word of her selection on Tuesday.

“Judge Sotomayor is a liberal activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written,” said Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, an activist group. “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.”

White House officials concluded that such statements, while perhaps providing fodder for opponents, would not be problematic enough to hinder her confirmation. Some officials have said in recent days that they relish the prospect of Republicans standing up against a Hispanic woman with her life story, because it would only damage the G.O.P. with a key voting bloc.

Isn’t it a bit naive to think that one’s ethnicity, wealth, and culture don’t already affect decisions all the time? Why is it suddenly a problem when a justice does not come from the traditional halls of power? Now we should be afraid that a judge will use personal experience to influence decisions–even though we’ve seen it before. Or perhaps we’re supposed to be afraid because white and male is considered a neutral status and therefore those judges will always be impartial since they have no interest. I’d have to say that’s naive at best and completely ficticious at worst.


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