A reader writes:
What Sotomayor's speech reveals is that she believes (as many people on both sides of the ideological spectrum do) that issues in this country concerning ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc. cannot be appreciated or understood by people who do not identify with the group in question.
This dangerous and very prevalent mode of thinking means that any judge who does not have a background in one of these areas is less capable of making judgements concerning a civil liberties case than someone who can identify with the affected group. It automatically calls into question the decision making process of any judge by suggesting that their ability to make correct decisions is not based on an objective analysis of the law but on past personal experiences.
I reject her argument that white male judges are not as capable simply because they don't care or because they are unwilling to take the time or effort to fully appreciate or understand the problem. Her own statements prove that this is not the case, and her criticisms of past courts are full of her own bias. For example, she states that the Supreme Court had never upheld a claim by a woman of gender discrimination until 1972, but she fails to add that the decision was made by a Supreme Court that was entirely male and almost all white.
Finally, like it or not, Newt has a point, and one that resonates strongly with white Americans. Would a white judge have been able to get away with saying that a wise white male can more often than not make better decisions than a minority? Of course not, it would be immediately branded as racism, and I highly doubt anyone would be taking the time to try and qualify the statement. So was what she said racist or not?
You can argue all day long about whether waterboarding is torture, but you've said more than once that it is hypocritical for the NY Times to called it torture if one country does it for one reason and to call it enhanced interrogation if America does it for another reason. I'm seeing a little hypocrisy in not calling her statement racist.
I agree with much of what my reader writes. I find the term "racist" too crude and offensive for her belief that ethnic, cultural and personal experience can be an advantage in being a judge in a multicultural society; combined with her stated view that a judge must resist the temptation to reduce the law to her own perspective.
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