26 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Obama announced his pick for the Supreme Court today. And the Cons sprang into action, giving us a superb view of their racism, sexism, and various and sundry other isms.

Inhofe was perhaps the most obvious of the lot:

A whole lot of senators issued statements today in response to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, and most were polite and inconsequential. Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) press release, however, stood out.

"Without doubt, Judge Sotomayor's personal life story is truly inspiring. I congratulate her on being nominated. As the U.S. Senate begins the confirmation process, I look forward to looking closer at her recent rulings and her judicial philosophy.
"Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench. Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern. In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences." [emphasis added]


Put it this way: when was the last time James Inhofe questioned whether a white nominee for the federal bench had an ability to rule "without undue influence" from his race? Would he worry about the Vatican having "undue influence" over a Roman Catholic nominee? Has he ever checked to make sure a male nominee was not overly influenced by his gender?

I somehow doubt it.

Of course, the whole chorus line of right-wing blowhards is belting out the tune:

Leading conservative commentators and news outlets have jumped on the 2001 Sonia Sotomayor quote I noted below to make the (wrong) claim that she has said that Latinas are better than white men.

In that 2001 speech, Sotomayor didn’t say that. Rather, she said this:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Rush Limbaugh, in an apparent reaction to the quote, said that Sotomayor is a “reverse racist” who “has put down white men in favor of Latina women.” Fox News’ Megyn Kelly said it shows Sotomayor thinks “that Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges.”

Michelle Malkin, meanwhile, said it shows that Sotomayor wants her personal experiences to “cloud her jurisprudence.”

The full text of her 2001 speech is right here. It shows that these readings are complete fabrications.

Yes, I know. Super totally unbelievable they'd take something utterly out of context and use it to paint Sotomayor as some sort of uber-liberal activist judge who just wants to bust white men's balls, right?

But they're not stopping there. Oh, no. They're slamming her intellect:

Attacking Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor for being insufficiently right-wing makes perfect sense. Attacking her intelligence is not only ridiculous, it's offensive.

Sotomayor, a lower-court nominee of both the H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, has a background that should shield her from such nonsense: top of her class at Princeton, Yale Law School (editor of the Yale Law Journal), successful big-city prosecutor, corporate litigator, trial judge, district court judge, appeals court judge. She's earned the respect and admiration of her clerks, colleagues, and the lawyers who've argued before her. Sotomayor's intellect is not in doubt.
And yet, it's the issue some of the far-right's leading activists have decided to hang their hat on.

This morning on Fox News, Karl Rove questioned whether she was smart enough to be on the Supreme Court. "I'm not really certain how intellectually strong she would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit," he said. Citing Rosen, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes said that Sotomayor was "not the smartest."

This is, alas, not new. Two of the guys on the National Review's crew said Sotomayor is "dumb." In a now-infamous piece, Jeffrey Rosen quoted unnamed sources arguing that the judge is "not that smart." This morning, Curt Levey, executive director of the right-wing Committee for Justice, said Harriet Miers was an "intellectual lightweight" -- and Sotomayor is like Miers.

Because, you know, brown people can't be smart. Even if they're brilliant:

Coming from a housing project in the Bronx, Sotomayor ended up graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton. She also was a co-recipient of the M. Taylor Pyne Prize, the highest honor Princeton awards to an undergraduate. Sotomayor then went to Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) said on Fox News this morning that of all the nominees, Sotomayor “brings the most in terms of judicial experience — in terms of serving on a federal court — in 100 years.”

SCOTUS Blog has pointed out that women and minority candidates for the Supreme Court are often portrayed as not being smart enough for the job. As Matt Yglesias has also written, underscoring this point, “I recall a lot of issues being raised during the Samuel Alito confirmation fight, but at that time I don’t remember anyone raising questions about the intelligence of a Princeton/Yale Law graduate who’d done time on an Appeals Court.”

Their bias may or may not be unconscious, but it extends even into refusing to pay her the simple courtesy of calling her judge:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has some thoughts on Sotomayor, too. "Of primary importance," he says, "we must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one's own personal preferences or political views." [emphasis added]


Just as a point of reference, when Roberts and Alito were under consideration in the Senate, Sessions took care to refer to both men as judges in his press releases.

I do believe they need to be taking the advice of some rather high-ranking Republicans and knocking the sexist, racist bullshit off before it explodes in their faces. It's not likely to sit well with the broader public. Happily for those of us who enjoy watching GOP train wrecks, wiser heads aren't likely to prevail.

The idiocy continues with Rush Limbaugh, who added Sotomayor to his list of people he most wants to see fail:
Reacting to Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court today, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor a “horrible pick,” said that Republicans should “go to the mat” in their efforts to oppose her confirmation in the Senate, and — echoing his hopes for Obama’s failure — declared that he wanted Sotomayor to “fail”:
LIMBAUGH: Do I want her to fail? Yeah. Do I want her to fail to get on the court? Yes! She’d be a disaster on the court.

He then reiterated his hopes for Obama's failure. Same ol' fatuous gasbag.

But I think the most amusing thing to come out of this nomination is Norm Coleman's idea that he's still relevant in any way:
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has released a statement on the Sotomayor nomination, promising to make a thorough review of her record -- as soon as he's re-elected:

ST. PAUL - Senator Norm Coleman today released the following statement in response to President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

"When debating judges, I was firm that I would use the same standard to evaluate judges under a Democrat President as I would a Republican President. Are they intellectually competent, do they have a record of integrity, and most importantly, are they committed to following the Constitution rather than creating new law and policy. When I am re-elected, I intend to review Judge Sotomayor's record using this process. Certainly, the nomination of a Hispanic woman to the nation's highest court is something all American's should applaud."

Isn't that adorable? He sounds just like he doesn't realize the election already happened and he lost.

Interesting fantasy world the Cons inhabit. It'll be adorable to watch them suffer apoplexy when Judge Sotomayor's confirmed.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

It's interesting that she specifically stated her race and gender play a part in her rulings, yet anyone who points this out is a racist....

(insert rolling eyes here)

Mechalith said...

I think it's more that anyone upset by the fact is a bit racist. Of course she'll see things differently than an old upper class white man, you'd be a fool to claim otherwise. The point she was making is that historically it's been minorities who spurred the social justice changes in the Supreme Court, and that having an expanded set of backgrounds on the court would be a good thing.

The issue that Judge Sotomayor is making a point of is that a lot of the time the knee jerk response is all you really get, and the law gets interpreted in that light. To arrive at the proper conclusion it takes more than that, and having a dissenting voice will help. Changing that argument into "sweet Jesus, she'll sell us out to the brown people" is what most people are objecting to.