David Harsanyi

You know what would be a nice change of pace? A nominee for public office whose compelling life story didn't remind me of my pitiably self-indulgent life.

Fortunately, while overachievers can induce some self-loathing, when it comes to public service, spectacular life stories are irrelevant.

Adversity does not grant anyone superhuman intellect or a Solomon-like temperament. And gripping tales of perseverance should not make one impenetrable to criticism.

Much has been made of political repercussions for Republicans if they dare target Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor -- a Latina who grew up in a deprived neighborhood in the South Bronx.

New York's hyper-yammering senator, Chuck Schumer, claims that the Republican Party would do so at its "own peril" -- alluding, no doubt, in part to blowback from the Hispanic community.

If Republicans take this kind of bigoted advice, they will have done the country a great disservice. Hispanics are a diverse minority group, not a bunch of lock-stepping, hypersensitive onlookers unable to handle a serious debate.

Now, it is true that Sotomayor once unleashed her own unsightly gibberish about race, claiming 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."

If one felt like being a contrarian, one might argue that emotional baggage of a "rich" worldview has the potential to hinder a judge from fulfilling her oath of "equal right to the poor and to the rich and … faithfully and impartially" discharging her duties.

Take, if you will, one of Sotomayor's most criticized decisions.

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Ricci v. DeStefano, a reverse discrimination case in Connecticut involving the New Haven Fire Department. The department administered a test to promote 15 people to captain or lieutenant, but no African-Americans passed. The city trashed the exam and refused to promote the folks who did pass, concocting a new test instead. One of the firefighters who was denied was a 34-year-old dyslexic named Frank Ricci, who had worked his tail off to pass the test.

When the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals got to the case, Sotomayor joined a short opinion dismissing it. It prompted her colleague Jose Cabranes -- appointed by President Bill Clinton and widely considered a liberal -- to claim that Sotomayor's "opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case."


David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.