Monday, August 3, 2009


"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 white hasn't lived that life."

That sentence, or a similar one, has appeared in speeches Judge Sonia Sotomayor delivered in 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2001.

Not only has she stated that because of her ethnicity would she be a superior judge, she has spent her career engaged in identify politics, advancing what ethnic group? Well of course, her own.

At Princeton, she headed up Accion Puertorriquena, which filed a complaint with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare demanding that her school hire Hispanic teachers.

At Yale, she co-chaired a coalition of non-black minorities of color that demanded more Latino professors and administrators.

After Yale, Sotomayor joined the National Council of La Raza and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund. Both promote race and ethnic preferences, affirmative action and quotas for Hispanics.

It seems she has spent her life trying to grant preferences to Hispanics in general, and Puerto Ricans in particular.

Let's leave aside whether affirmative action programs should even apply to Hispanics. Affirmative action programs were designed to alleviate the vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow. Last time I checked their were no separate schools, water fountains, hotels etc. for Puerto Ricans in Mississippi.

Can we really expect that when Sotomayor is on the highest court in the land, she would not give preferences to a group that she worked her whole life trying to grant preferences for?

I mean, even as a judge, she decided that laws that deny convicted felons the right to vote was unconstitutional because Puerto Rican child molesters were disproportionately discriminated against.

She favors statehood for Puerto Rico under the following conditions: Puerto Rico gets to keep its ocean & mineral rights. Guess how many other states get to keep its own ocean & mineral rights? Its the same number of championships Patrick Ewing won with the Knicks. On and on.

Now I agree that to some extent that all of us are products of our environments. And we all have a right to be proud of our ethnic background. But Sotomayor goes beyond being proud, she tips the scales of justice based on where people come from-and where she comes from.

Now when politicians act in ways that go beyond partisanship and venture into the sphere of giving/denying benefits to Americans on account of race, we have a built in mechanism to remove them- the ballot box. People have a voice.

When you talk about being nominated to the Supreme Court, we should do our very best to ensure that the nominee is free of the bias that Sotomayor has clearly demonstrated throughout her life.

Why? Because once she is on, we have no voice. She is on the bench for life. As a lower court judge, she is constrained by precedent (most of the time) and the Supreme Court (all of the time). Her whacked out opinions (denying white firefighters promotions) can be checked by the political system.

When she is on the Supreme Court she will have no constraints. She will be free to be what she has been her whole life: a racial/ethnic preference Queen, who engages in identity politics.

Given the stakes: Can we not do better than this?

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