Can I just say for the record that the whole Republican meme on Sonia Sotomayor shows perfectly their fragile little egos and pathetic logic pretzels to try to convince America that the poor little privileged white man just can't get a break in today's America?
Cry me a river. Case in point: Sen. Lindsey Graham on FoxNews Sunday and his intellectually dishonest (not that anything the GOP does as opposition is intellectually honest) threats of not voting to confirm Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
GRAHAM: (S)he said was that based on her life experiences, that she thought a Latina woman -- somebody with her background -- would be a better judge than a guy like me: a white guy from South Carolina. And it is troubling, and it's inappropriate. I hope she will apologize. And if I had said something like that--or someone with my background and profile--we wouldn't be talking about this nomination going forward.
At this point, we'll break from the "Southern guy with a huge chip on his shoulder diatribe" to actually quote EXACTLY what Sotomayor said:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
I also hope that by raising the question today of what difference having more Latinos and Latinas on the bench will make will start your own evaluation. For people of color and women lawyers, what does and should being an ethnic minority mean in your lawyering? For men lawyers, what areas in your experiences and attitudes do you need to work on to make you capable of reaching those great moments of enlightenment which other men in different circumstances have been able to reach. For all of us, how do change the facts that in every task force study of gender and race bias in the courts, women and people of color, lawyers and judges alike, report in significantly higher percentages than white men that their gender and race has shaped their careers, from hiring, retention to promotion and that a statistically significant number of women and minority lawyers and judges, both alike, have experienced bias in the courtroom?
Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
So for those who actually employ critical thinking skills and not just cherry-picked quotes (which obviously is beyond the ken of Newt, Rush, et al.,) Sotomayor is cautioning against relying on those life experiences and advocating constant checking against assumptions.
GRAHAM: I do know this: that statement is not about talking about her life experiences, it's getting from her life experiences a superiority based on those experiences versus somebody else in society. And I don't want that kind of person being a judge in my case, but I don't think she’s a racist. I think she should be proud of what she's accomplished in life. But to lead to the conclusion that all the hardships she has gone through makes her better than me is inappropriate.
My, my, someone here has some clear issues and insecurities. There are no assumptions of superiority in Sotomayor's speech. It's a caution against that.
Personally, I don't think Sotomayor owes anyone an apology, but she sure as hell deserves one from partisan crap like this from Graham.
Full transcript (h/t David E)
WALLACE: Let's start with Judge Sotomayor’s controversial speech back in 2001 in which she hoped that wise Latina woman judge more often than not will reach better conclusion than a white male judge. On Friday, President Obama tried to walk that back. Let's watch.
[video Barack Obama] I'm sure she would have restated it, but if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what is clear she was simply saying that her life experiences would give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through that will make her a good judge. [end video]
WALLACE: Senator Graham, does that clear it up for you?
GRAHAM: No, she didn't say that at all. What she said was that based on her life experiences, that she thought a Latina woman-- somebody with her background-- would be a better judge than a guy like me: a white guy from South Carolina. And it is troubling, and it's inappropriate. I hope she will apologize. And if I had said something like that--or someone with my background and profile--we wouldn't be talking about this nomination going forward. But we'll listen to what she has to say. She has to prove to me if I found myself in court with a Latina woman, in front of her, I'd get a fair shake. That's up to her to do.
WALLACE: Well, let me follow up. Newt Gingrich says that she's a racist, Rush Limbaugh compares her to former Klansman David Duke. Are they right?
GRAHAM: No, they interject themselves in the debate. They got an audience to entertain. Newt’s a political commentator. I’m a United States senator. But I do know this: that statement is not about talking about her life experiences, it's getting from her life experiences a superiority based on those experiences versus somebody else in society. And I don't want that kind of person being a judge in my case, but I don't think she’s a racist. I think she should be proud of what she's accomplished in life. But to lead to the conclusion that all the hardships she has gone through makes her better than me is inappropriate.