(Orlando Sentinel) Shortly after President Barack Obama selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor — originally a Bush the First appointee — as his nominee to the Supreme Court, key Republican Party operatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy launched a barrage of racist, sexist and unpatriotic public attacks against her.
The attacks allegedly were for a statement she made in a lecture which later was published by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.
What appears to have fueled the far-right backlash is that a Latina judge would dare state that she “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.”
Sotomayor’s statement was, in part, made in response to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s odd assertion that wisdom rather than gender would result in a wise old man and a wise old woman reaching the same conclusions in deciding cases. I wonder whether O’Connor envisioned a 70-something white male and a 50-something Latin woman when she made her statement.
Would a wise Latina judge vote to uphold cases that perpetuated sex and race discrimination as did Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Benjamin Nathan Cardoza? I think not. To argue otherwise is to indict the definition of wise.
Moreover, what is so controversial about Sotomayor’s commentary? Is the mere suggestion that a wise Latina could reach a better conclusion than a white male objectionable? Has anyone asked whether or not Sotomayor may be right in a country that is soon to be a majority-minority? Would it be less controversial if she had said “a wise woman” rather than a “wise Latina”?
If one were to read Sotomayor’s entire commentary titled “A Latina Judge’s Voice,” it is clear that she forwarded the basic premise that the gender, national origin and personal experiences of judges impact their judging. Is this really a novel revelation? Does such an assertion warrant racial attacks against a senior member of the American judiciary? Is this simply Washington politics, or is there a more primordial and insidious rationale?
Limbaugh, Gingrich, Hannity and Liddy’s shameful and ignorant attacks on Sotomayor are nothing more than race-baiting, and they exemplify the worst sort of sexism, racism and lack of patriotism we have come to expect from fledging pre-integration ideologists.
Last Friday, Limbaugh went as far as to claim that the only way to be promoted in a Barack Obama administration is to hate white people. I did not know that Limbaugh was the chosen spokesman for white America. Few whites that I know, whether Republican or Democrat, support this type of race-baiting. Perhaps, bobble head didn’t know that Sotomayor was formerly married to a white man.
In addition, if hating white people were the litmus test for advancement in the Obama administration, there must be a plenitude of white-on-white violence in Washington, as nearly all of Obama’s key appointments are white men and women. In fact, Obama has yet to appoint a single “traditional” African-American to his Cabinet. Attorney General Eric Holder’s parents are from Barbados, and U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice, who is married to a white man, does not hold a traditional Cabinet position.
For anyone to refer to Sotomayor as an ignorant and racist Latina is not only foolish, but sorely disconnected with a post-segregation America.
Racism may be defined as a belief that inherent or biological differences among races, rather than cultured experiences, alone determine the superiority of one race over another resulting in racial hatred and intolerance of other races.
Sotomayor is no racist and has not authored racist jurisprudence, or, for that matter, employed a “poor choice of words” in her Berkeley La Raza Law Journal article. The attempt of the far right to block the first Latina Supreme Court nominee with hateful and bigoted rhetoric will damage the Republican Party’s ability to redefine itself as inclusive; alienate women, minorities and fair-minded white voters; and, in time, unwittingly confirm Sotomayor’s visionary premise about Latina decision-making.