Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Foot In Mouth: Wise Latina Edition

It was practically "all Sotomayor all the time" on the Sunday political talk shows. Many of those that support Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, and some of the Sunday program hosts, tried to put her now infamous comments into their context. Trouble is, this doesn't make them look any better.

Here is David Gregory on NBC's Meet The Press:
The comments that she made back in 2001 have captured a lot of people's attention, and I want to put them on the screen here in wider context than we've heard them discussed this week because I think the context is important, and I want to get your reaction. This is what she said: "I...accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. ... Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that wise old men and wise old--and a wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am...not so sure that I agree with the statement. ... 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 wasn't lived that life. ...

It is nonsense to pretend that people are able to simply check all of their closely held notions, bigoted or otherwise, just because they go on the clock. This is the case even if they happen to wear a black robe and swing a gavel for a living.

It is also the case that a Latina woman making a statement like this and David Duke making a similar statement about white men are not the same thing.

But even so, this is an incredibly dumb thing to say, especially for a judge. Someone that ought to have, you know, good judgment.

The attempt to put this comment into wider context simply doesn't help. Maybe the Latina thing was just some overheated rhetoric. But no, Sotomayor couldn't even find enough charity to agree with Sandra Day O'Connor of all people! She couldn't even bring herself to agree that two wise old people of different genders could come to the same conclusion.

I am not sure that type of folksy wisdom makes for good Supreme Court Justices, to be sure; but espousing such notions, especially when they come from a highly respected woman Justice, certainly provides a way for Senators of both parties to give their consent for one's ascent to the highest court in the land.

Too bad Sotomayor couldn't be a little more restrained in her remarks. Since her confirmation is very likely, let's hope she is a little more restrained when speaking from the bench.


Your Lovely Wife said...

Well, even if she "restrains" herself from saying stupid things...she will probably still think (and make judgments with) them...isn't that a problem?

Steve said...

It was an incredibly dumb thing to say, and unfortunately what we say, even if we "mis-speak" has a subtle nuance of what we think. I don't like this nomination. What she is saying is like "unless you live in the South you can't really understand segregation.