This is What Identity Politics Looks Like

    Sonia Sotomayor has received the unofficial endorsement of the ACLU, but not on the basis of her record on rights and liberties.  Citing her personal story and Puerto Rican descent, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero celebrated Sotomayor's nomination in a blog on the ACLU website (and the Huffington Post.)  "My heart swelled with such pride" when he heard of her nomination, Romero gushed, because he is also Puerto Rican and shares a "similar 'pedigree' of sorts" with Judge Sotomayor.  
   
    The ACLU does not officially endorse judicial nominees, as Romero noted, (while stressing his "veneration" for Sotomayor in an official post;) and the organization will issue a report on her record, which is mixed:  In Doninger v Niehoff, a case of great concern to free speech advocates, Sotomayor joined in a decision upholding the power of school administrators to punish students for postings on their personal blogs. (I've written about the case here.)  She is reportedly a fierce proponent of campaign finance restrictions, which the ACLU and other free speech advocates oppose.  And as Emily Bazelon reported at Slate, she persuaded her colleagues to reverse a jury verdict in a case involving apparently abusive police conduct.  But, in the meantime, as we await a comprehensive civil liberties report on Sotomayor, the ACLU executive director's tribute to her, devoid of any caveats or even curiosity about her record, illustrates the problem of identity politics that may continue to dog, although not deter, her confirmation.



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Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.

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