June 5, 2009

Sonia "Banana Peel" Sotomayor Slips Again - and Again - and Again...

Hatched by Dafydd

When the text was leaked of a 2001 speech by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, tabbed by President Barack H. Obama to be his first Supreme Court pick, and it was found to contain a passage that reeked of classic "reverse racism" the explanation by the White House was that it was simply a "poor choice of words," almost a slip of the tongue; she had said, "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."

Now the Congressional Quarterly discovers that Ms. Sotomayor "slips" so often, she could star in a Mack Sennett comedy:

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested "a wise Latina woman" or "wise woman" judge might "reach a better conclusion" than a male judge.

Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, (to see Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee click here and here) suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a "wise Latina" judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.

I thought from the beginning that the defense was preposterous. The conclusion to her 2001 lecture wasn't a slip of the tongue or even just a "poor choice of words;" it was a long, extended rhetorical climax identifying the central thesis of her entire argument: that the gender and race of judge and litigants play, and should play, a huge role in how a judge decides a case. Her ancillary thesis was even worse: that whites and males are simply not as good at the job as people of "color" and females.

Here is the context surrounding the "wise Latina" passage of her 2001 Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley Law School, titled "a Latina Judge's Voice" (page 5 at the link):

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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....

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

But seven years earlier, in 1994, then District Judge Sotomayor delivered an address containing the following nearly identical passage:

Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that “a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion in dueling cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Prof. Martha Minnow is correct, there can never be a universal definition of ‘wise.’ Second, I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion. [Sotomayor had yet to substitute "Latina" for "woman" to drag in racism as well as sexism.]

In addition, CQ Politics found Sotomayor boasting of the superiority of a "wise woman" judge over a (presumably more foolish) male judge, in at least four other lectures in between the 1994 and 2001 speeches:

  • One in 1999 to the New York State Women's Bar Association;
  • One in 1999 to Yale University;
  • Another to Yale in 2000;
  • And one to the CUNY School of Law (date not mentioned by CQ Politics).

Finally, they found a 2003 speech at Seton Hall University, two years after her Olmos Memorial Lecture, with this version:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.

That makes seven times -- that we know of! -- that Sotomayor suggested women, and Latinas in particular, make better judges than whites and males.

I believe we have here what civil-rights law calls a "continuing pattern and practice" of making racist and sexist comments in major scripted, edited, and rehearsed speeches before august legal bodies. This renders risible the defense that Sotomayor was guilty only of a "poor choice of words." This isn't just a slip of the tongue, it's a window into a profoundly racially and sexually biased judicial mind.

When a person returns again and again over many years to a bizarre and controversial claim -- especially one that must be taken purely on faith, since all the evidence points against it -- then we must take seriously her absolute commitment to that position. And that means we cannot get away from the strong likelihood that her philosophical, ideological commitment to judging legal cases based upon race and gender, rather than purely upon the facts of the case and the relevant law, will recur; and that in some cases at least, it will determine her vote on the Supreme Court.

This also means that Newt Gingrich was premature to withdraw his charge of "racism" against Sotomayor in favor of the more wishy-washy claim that she only made a racist statement. One such statement can be explained away by implying it was out of character, she doesn't really think like that, she had a brain-tongue interchange malfunction, she just slipped.

But you don't slip on the same banana peel seven times unless, as with the Keystone Kops, the slip is entirely intentional: We must face the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is, by any widely accepted definition of the words, both racist and sexist: She believes that one race is superior to another and that one gender is superior to the other.

Were a judicial nominee found to have endorsed pro-white, pro-male bias with similar enthusiastic repetition, his nomination would never make it out of the Senate J-Com. It shames the Democratic Party that in the age of Obama, a cheerfully racist and sexist judicial nominee is still a "slam-dunk" for confirmation... because she's the right kind of racist and sexist.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 5, 2009, at the time of 11:37 AM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: Zelsdorf2

And the fact she is a racial bigot appointed by Obama suprises who?

The above hissed in response by: Zelsdorf2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2009 1:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: djaces

I find Sotomayor's obvious bigotry less troubling than her position, shared by Obama, that the way a litigant is treated by the court should be contingent on his or her ability to elicit an empathetic response from a judge. Respect for the Law has already been reduced to a dangerous point by nanny state legislators attempting to make every possible aspect of human existence liable to litigation or governmental sanction. If we are now to remove even the pretext of impartial treatment from the Law, the only possible result will be that disregard for the Law will become universal, as it already has in the Obama administration.l

The above hissed in response by: djaces [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2009 5:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

I doubt that she is bigoted in the classical sense. I think she was making statements in line with postmodern "multiculturalism" and old-school feminism.

She is calling to mind the wise women of the village. Their wise judgement was due to the experiences of a full lifetime; they were mothers, storytellers, often war widows, and the tribal elders.

From her viewpoint, she has a mystical connection to the universe that white man has lost, with his machines and pollution and crowded cities and despoiled lands.

This isn't a "drink from the other fountain, BOY" racism, it's a "you people just don't get it" racism.

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2009 3:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

...By the way, I'm not saying it's a better racism. It's not. They're both horribly offensive.

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 7, 2009 7:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

Reports in the Press say that Ms. Sotomayor is a member of "The National Council of La Raza".

IMO, that is sufficient by itself to disqualify her.

The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2009 11:18 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

"It shames the Democratic Party that in the age of Obama, a cheerfully racist and sexist judicial nominee is still a "slam-dunk" for confirmation... because she's the right kind of racist and sexist."

Since when has the Democrat Party shown any sign that "shame" applies to it?

The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2009 11:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: Karl

At least on the Supreme Court, she'll no longer have to risk the "banana problem" -- being overturned on a peel.

The above hissed in response by: Karl [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2009 2:56 PM

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