I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Attacks on Sotomayor miss their mark
Last week, Americans learned that President Barack Obama wants New York federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the first Hispanic justice ever named to the court.
This week we’ve been inundated with images of the esteemed judge making the rounds on Capitol Hill, doing her best to ingratiate herself with the scores of nearly all-white, mostly male Senators who will decide her fate.
In the days in between, the millions of Americans who applauded Judge Sotomayor’s historic nomination watched with dismay — but not surprise — as conservatives smeared her academic achievements, her judicial record and even her pride in her identity as a Puerto Rican woman.
The so-called leaders of the Republican Party, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio talker Rush Limbaugh, sneered that Judge Sotomayor is “not that bright;” that she’s a “perfect example of an affirmative action hire;” that she is a “racist” for expressing pride as a Latina.
This about a child who lost her father at age nine and fought her way up from a housing project in the Bronx to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University. Sotomayor later received her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was named editor of the Yale Law Journal.
This about a woman who worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for five years before being appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991. Sotomayor was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1998, and has heard more than 3,000 appeals to cases and written hundreds of opinions.
And finally, this about a woman who is immensely proud to be descended from Puerto Rican parents who raised her to become a respected role model for women and women of color.
“She’s overcome adversity growing up and made herself an enormous success based on talent and strength of character, “ Jon O. Newman, a senior judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a former chief judge, told reporters.
“And that’s the American dream.”
Reasonable people will look at Sotomayor’s record and discard the first two complaints against her based on hard, cold facts. Yes, Sotomayor is very, very smart, and yes, she has the legal and judicial experience to qualify for the job.
But it’s that third comment — that Sotomayor is a racist — that really offends. Apparently it stems from 2001 speech Sotomayor made at the University of California-Berkeley law school, in which she made this comment: “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.” (I urge you to read the speech in its entirety here.)
Conservatives like Limbaugh and Gingrich took this remark — plucked from a lengthy, contextual address — to mean that Sotomayor has been incapable of seeing anything but race or ethnicity as she’s conducted her long career as a judge.
This despite ample evidence of the contrary from legal scholars who’ve pored over every judgment Sotomayor has ever made. This despite Sotomayor’s explanation of the remark, in which she reiterates her devotion to the U.S. Constitution and rule of law.
It is so easy to call people names. It’s much harder to actually study and evaluate their entire body of work. Slowly but surely, the public is getting an accurate, informed portrait of Sotomayor – and most say they like what they see.
The mudslinging has slowed in the last few days, as top Republicans realize that most Americans don’t take kindly to race-based attacks.
In the face of scorn from many, including other Republicans, Gingrich backed off from his “she’s a racist” remark Wednesday — see CNN political analyst Gloria Borger’s acid take on his reversal here:
Limbaugh, however, has refused to take back his hyperbolic and hateful words.
And so far, the senators who will ultimately vote to reject or confirm Sotomayor have received her graciously on the Hill.
Let’s hope the resoundingly negative reaction to the smears against Sotomayor stops the insulting conservative campaign against her in its tracks.