Unfortunately, Sotomayor has personally contributed to this shameful idea by giving a speech arguing that ethnicity and gender “may and will make a difference in our judging.” She said, “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.”
Talk about demeaning. I guess all Supreme Court Justices should be “wise Latina women.” Then they would reach a better conclusion, at least according to Sotomayor.
But that really brings another issue to the forefront that has been lurking behind the language used by many, including the President. It is a fallacy to believe that you are “empathetic” simply because you are a minority. Of course, the unspoken message behind it is that if you are a white man, you don’t really “get it.”
Since when is being a minority a pre-requisite to having empathy? Why is a Hispanic’s perspective somehow better than others? How is thinking that your perspective is better because of your race empathetic?
That type of thinking requires us to do some more digging into Judge Sotomayor’s views. For example, if two defendants have committed the exact same crime under the exact same set of facts, is one supposed to get a longer jail term because he is white and came from wealthy parents, while the other deserves a second chance and softer treatment because he is a minority and has had a rough upbringing?
We all have limited perspectives, and only through humility can anyone properly approach the incredibly difficult task of being a judge. Judge Sotomayor needs to show that humility.
I call on all Americans, whatever your background, to engage in a meaningful discussion about the qualifications, character, judicial temperament, and judicial philosophy of Judge Sotomayor.
Let us articulate our views respectfully and make our views heard to our Senators. But let us not take the bait from those who would try to manipulate us through pride and emotion.
Hispanics can be proud of Sotomayor’s story and accomplishments and still disagree with her judicial philosophy and even oppose her, just as African-Americans can be proud of this country for moving past race to elect President Obama and yet disagree with his policies and even vote against him.