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 May, 2009


 Republicans Respond to the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor

Muchas Gracias Barack

The battle lines are drawn. In fact, they’d been drawn weeks before President Obama officially nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become this nation’s 111th Supreme Court justice.

Republicans were poised to reject anybody who Obama nominated.

They’d already signaled that by turning flips over Obama’s claim that he was looking for a potential Supreme Court nominee who possesses, among a number of things, empathy.

Overnight, empathy became a bad thing. I don’t get it. To the most vocal right-wingers, waterboarding is good, empathy is bad. Have they no shame?

Besides, when one of their own, President George H. W. Bush, nominated Clarence Thomas, he’d openly claimed, “He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great EMPATHY and a wonderful sense of humor.” Sotomayor appears to be nothing more than an available target for a political party that has nothing left to offer in the public discourse but feeble political target practice.

For starters, Sotomayor will undoubtedly become only the third woman, and the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Any argument to the contrary will be academic. That is, unless they somehow uncover something unseemly, like, well, she waterboarded a Republican, in her past.

Otherwise, if a president, who’s been a constitutional law professor, nominates somebody with Sotomayor’s considerable legal background (Princeton with high honors and Yale), there shouldn’t be much of a question about her “qualifications.”

That’s why right-wingers are concentrating on what should “disqualify” her.

Patrick J. Buchanan casually mentions she was born in Puerto Rico, while he calls her an “affirmative action pick.”

First, she was born in the Bronx, and second, Buchanan would have considered anybody who isn’t a white male, an “affirmative action pick,” if they were nominated by a Democrat. To Buchanan, Obama was an “affirmative action pick.”

Then there’s the nonsense about Sotomayor’s statement that, “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 hasn't lived that life.”

That statement was one of many she made during a comprehensive 2001 lecture on the rise of Latino judges in the Judiciary. It was not meant to imply that Hispanic judges are better than white male judges.

It was only part of her specific examination of how a person’s life experiences can be beneficial in understanding complex issues. It dealt, even more specifically, with issues involving race and gender.

That statement seems to be the centerpiece of the right-wing opposition to Sotomayor.

It took only hours for Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’ Glenn Beck to run to the nearest microphones to call her a racist.

Coulter, Limbaugh and Beck are the three worst authorities on matters of race in this country. Each has made childishly questionable statements that have called into question their lack of racial sensitivities.

For example, Beck, when explaining the nomination of Sotomayor, made the following statement: “They’re just like, “’Hey!’” “’Hispanic chick lady, you’re empathetic?’” “She says, ‘Yup.’ “They say, ‘you’re in.’”

Beck’s in no position to point out racism, especially if he can’t find it in his own mirror.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, regardless of their private apprehensions about Sotomayor, are taking a more studied approach to their opposition. They may be claiming, in unison, that they would like to really take a long look at her record, but in reality they can count.

Republicans know they can’t win in an up or down vote on Sotomayor. The Democrats have 59 votes. If Al Franken takes his seat in the Senate, Democrats will have 60 filibuster proof votes. Republicans saw their last presidential candidate only manage to get about 34% of the Hispanic vote last November.
A pitched battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate over the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice wouldn’t exactly help Republicans among the country’s fastest growing voter block.

And that leaves only one more number - the number 1. When the October session of U.S. Supreme Court opens, there will be ONE well-qualified Hispanic justice on the bench.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net