2009 May 26 Tuesday
Sonia Sotomayor The Ethnic Choice

Writing for The New Republic before Sonia Sotomayor was chosen by the blessed prophet Barack Obama (peace be upon him) to become the next US Supreme Court nominee Jeffrey Rosen reports that Democrats who have worked as law clerks and judges with Sotomayor think she's not smart enough for the job. This just shows how little things change between Presidential Administrations - all partisan protests to the contrary. Sonia Sotomayor is Spanish for Harriet Miers.

But despite the praise from some of her former clerks, and warm words from some of her Second Circuit colleagues, there are also many reservations about Sotomayor. Over the past few weeks, I've been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. "She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue."

The difference here is that Sotomayor will most likely make it onto the Court. Obama gets a loyalist to his side plus an affirmative action hire. Kinda like Clarence Thomas.

Sotomayor thinks female Latinas can reach better judicial decisions than white males. Really, I am not making this up. And she's President Obama's nominee for the US Supreme Court.

Taylor has also noted this from a Sotomayor speech to a Hispanic group: "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." Says Taylor, "Imagine the reaction if someone had unearthed in 2005 a speech in which then-Judge Samuel Alito had asserted, for example: 'I would hope that a white male with the richness of his traditional American values would reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn't lived that life' -- and had proceeded to speak of 'inherent physiological or cultural differences.' "

Washington Post writer Michael Gerson takes issue with Sotomayor's appeals court vote against the white firefighters of New Haven Connecticut who were discriminated against in the name of increased NAM promotion. Even Gerson can see the unfairness of the treatment of the top scoring firefighters.

The administration needs to understand that Ricci v. DeStefano is genuinely troubling. Normally when affirmative action goals are applied, people have little idea if they have been discriminated against or not. A few hundred law school rejections are put in the mail. A few may have been influenced by a desire for racial balance. But no one really knows. In the New Haven firefighters’ case, 20 people with identifiable names and faces were clearly denied benefits they had earned based on their race. I am not opposed to affirmative action in all cases. But the injustice here seems crude and obvious.

Liberal supporters of racial preferences want injustice that is more refined and harder to see.

Yes, in many cases individual whites can't prove they were personally victims of reverse discrimination. If one person is hired or promoted based on their non-white race and several (or hundreds of) people were competing for that position it is hard to tell who would have gotten the job of race was not a criterion for the position. Liberals prefer it when it is harder to identify exactly who missed out on getting a position.

In the case of firemen passed over for promotion because they are white it isn't just the firemen who pay the price. Our lives depend on emergency workers making split second correct decisions on matters of life and death. Less intellectually able decision makers mean more dead people in emergency situations.

Update: There's one advantage to putting her on the Supreme Court: she won't have to get overruled on appeal any more.

Three of the five majority opinions written by Judge Sotomayor for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and reviewed by the Supreme Court were reversed, providing a potent line of attack raised by opponents Tuesday after President Obama announced he will nominate the 54-year-old Hispanic woman to the high court.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 May 26 11:47 PM  Politics Ethnicity

Truth said at May 27, 2009 1:16 AM:

S was selected for the court to head off any Supreme Court decisions in the Ricci case.

OneSTDV said at May 27, 2009 4:09 AM:

Racial "merits" have now trumped actual merits in high visibility positions. First Obama, then Michael Steele, then Eric Holder, now Sotomayor. Are the liberals actively trying to make us fail or are they so blind to the inefficiency and injustice of their policies?

dchamil said at May 27, 2009 5:46 AM:

Speaking of "richness of experience," one of the important experiences in life is to be a father or mother. This experience tends to make the person more conservative. I believe Sotomayor is unmarried and has no children.

Robert Hume said at May 27, 2009 7:10 AM:

So can anyone explain how she won a prize for something like best scholar as an undergraduate at Princeton? Seems like that would indicate that she is quite bright. Easy courses and nose to the grindstone? Smart roommate?

Sgt. Joe Friday said at May 27, 2009 7:32 AM:

I am no fan of this pick, but she's probably reasonably smart. She may have gotten into Princeton and Yale thanks to a lowered admission standards for minorities, but unless I am mistaken she graduated near the top of her class. That said, her temperment is questionable IMO. What I read into the various comments is that she's intolerant of opinions that differ with hers, and is belligerent and obnoxious. In other words, we'll start to hear whispers about "nasty gender and ethnic stereotypes" before this is done. But it won't be enough to keep her off SCOTUS.

Bled Whyte said at May 27, 2009 7:52 AM:

"So can anyone explain how she won a prize for something like best scholar as an undergraduate at Princeton? Seems like that would indicate that she is quite bright. Easy courses and nose to the grindstone? Smart roommate?"

Think Michelle Obama, diversity, leftism, etc...No actual academic rigor required!

rob said at May 27, 2009 9:54 AM:

It can't be overemphasized: cultures come come from people. Old, fat Puerto Rican women on average make poor decisions. If they made good decisions, Puerto Rico would be a nice place to live. Then Satomayor's ancestors would not have fled their homeland for a civilization they could not create themselves.

Personally, I don't think potential Supreme Court Justices should be judged on the merits of their ethnic and racial groups. Satomayor does, and thinks some stereotypes of old Puerto Rican women are true. I want to know what aspects of her alien, low-functioning culture she will bring to the Court.

Engineer-Poet said at May 27, 2009 4:07 PM:

Sotomayor thinks that Latina females reach better conclusions than white males (like Madison, Hamilton...).

Her remarks prove her both Politically Correct and utterly unfit.

Stephen said at May 27, 2009 8:58 PM:

Her decisions-overturned-on-appeal statistics will tell you how well she is able to understand, distinguish and correctly apply precedent. Nothing much else is relevant.

Truth(er) said at May 27, 2009 11:33 PM:

From purely a statistical point of view, the odds of a Latina female being qualified is almost nil.

I read this about blacks in law school and I know that everything there applies to Hispanics, only to a lesser extent.

The distribution of the bell curve means that because of the difference in average intelligence between the races when it comes to law schools the proportion of qualified whites to qualified blacks is enormous. That’s why a defender of affirmative action admits that if law schools simply went by undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores statistics from one year show that almost 4/5 of blacks, 2/3 of Puerto Ricans and 1/2 of Mexicans and Native Americans admitted to law school wouldn’t have been accepted. Even Asians get a slight edge. Of those blacks who ended up going to law school only 8.9 percent belonged there. At the top sixth of law schools 17.5 times more blacks were admitted than would’ve been based on UGPA and SAT. That’s another reason why mentioning that there are smart blacks in discussions about affirmative action misses the point. It’s not just that a few are getting a break; if you meet a high status black and you assume that he got his position at the expense of a more qualified white or Asian the vast majority of the time you’ll be right. The further he’s gotten in life, the less likely he is to have earned it by merit. And when it comes to grading...

Affirmative Action grading doesn’t have to be official policy or even conscious. Ken Harber wrote an essay filled with grammatical and content errors and gave it to 92 white college students to grade. They were given different biographies of the author and some indirectly revealed that he was black. On a scale of 7, papers that the white students thought were written by a black person got a grade of 3.5 and papers they thought were written by a white person got 2.7. On the essays supposedly written by a white some students wrote things like “when I read college work this bad I want to lay my head down on the table and cry.” The comments written on the essays supposedly written by a black were overwhelmingly positive. The mystery of how Michelle Obama could graduate from Princeton without mastering basic English is solved.Grading in law is so subjective and liberal law school professors so enamored with the right victims slobbering the right platitudes that anything achieved by a Sonia Sotomayor needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Stephen said at May 28, 2009 4:34 PM:

FiredogLake has a 'Who said this?' test with the choice being Sonia Sotomayor or Antonin Scalia.

It is not useful to classify highly-trained people based on racial/social stereotyping.

Chupacabras said at May 28, 2009 5:25 PM:

"It is not useful to classify highly-trained people based on racial/social stereotyping."

Ms. Sotomayor did that already herself. Or didn't you read?

Stephen said at May 28, 2009 9:20 PM:

She's merely observing that the weight naturally given to evidence is a function of the weigher's life experiences. That seems incontrovertible.

She then points out that even someone who hasn't got life-experience to weigh evidence in a particular domain can still give that evidence appropriate weight but the judge needs to exert a bit more effort in thinking about it. In support of her argument she observes that over the last 50 yrs WASP judges repeatedly found against ingrained racist practises - even though they hadn't themselves been victims.

She's saying that it takes more effort to see a problem if you haven't directly experienced it, but a judges' analytical expertise wins out.

Engineer-Poet said at May 29, 2009 9:45 PM:

And very apropos commentary from Day By Day:


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