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Monday, June 01, 2009


Will Justice Sotomayor represent "all" of us?

Republican Senators don't like the idea that Sonia Sotomayor has a different background than they do:
Fanning out across network television talk shows, the senators in essence pledged to ask a fundamental question: Can a woman who says her views are shaped by her Puerto Rican heritage and humble beginnings make fair decisions when it comes to all races and social classes?

"We need to know, for example, whether she's going to be a justice for all of us or just a justice for a few of us," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Cornyn should talk to Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been jailed and facing a death sentence for 28 years after a trial presided over by a judge who was heard to say before the trial, "I'm going to help them fry the nigger," a fact which has had absolutely zero impact on the "fair" decisions of subsequent appeals court judges. The question isn't whether someone of ethnic and "humble" beginnings can make fair decisions when it comes to rich white people like Sen. Cornyn. The question is whether someone who doesn't come from ethnic or "humble" beginnings can make fair decisions about someone who does. And, as the case of Abu-Jamal and literally tens of thousands of other victims of U.S. "justice" testify, the answer is, unfortunately, "no."

If a Justice Soyomayor could only help ensure fair decisions when it comes to the 14.4% of the population that is Hispanic or Latino, that would be a step forward, not a step backward.

Unfortunately, even that isn't guaranteed; in 96 race-related cases, Sotomayor rejected claims of discrimination roughly 78 times. Like many people from underprivileged backgrounds who "make it," Judge Sotomayor may well identify more and more with the people she associates with, rather than those from her background [Note that I say "may well"; I certainly don't know. It's certainly possible all 78 of those cases were completely bogus claims. Possible, but probably not likely.]

In a related matter, Judge Soyomayor is under attack from the right (a.k.a. the "wrong") for her decision in the Ricci case (New Haven firefighters). Predictions are that that decision will be overturned by the Supreme Court, striking a blow against affirmative action. How did Sotomayor's chief advocate in the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer, deal with this? Like this:

You know, we hear all these claims we don't want judicial activists, and that is true. We don't. Here, she was being modest, following the precedent of her court, not overruling what (inaudible) had been done. It would be quite different if New Haven -- if she was overruling what New Haven had done. So I think she was doing what a judge should do.
Like most elected Democrats, Schumer does his best to avoid actually defending any principle, whether it be affirmative action, as in this case, or "opposition to the war in Iraq," followed by continual votes to fund that very same war, or the right to abortion, as was the case with President Obama's speech at Notre Dame. For an actual defense of affirmative action, you have to look to socialists.

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