A Teachable Moment

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 26, 2009 9:56 AM

In choosing Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama has chosen a woman who has said, as Stuart Taylor notes here, that 

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life."


In other words, she believes that the quality of a judge's reasoning is based on her own subjective "experiences" -- a roundabout way of discounting the importance of judicial impartiality (or at least striving for it).

Republicans don't have the votes to defeat Sotomayor -- and should be extremely cautious even in considering a filibuster.   There is so much at stake right now that it's going to be important to "prioritize" properly.  But what the GOP will have is an opportunity through the hearings to show what liberal judging is all about -- and they need to take that moment.  

If they can do nothing else about the nomination, Republicans should make sure that the average voter understands: What should frighten regular Americans is that judges like Sotomayor threaten our freedom because they are committed to particular results in advance

They have confused the policy-making that elected representatives do with the decision-making and consitutional interpretation that judges are supposed to do.  Sure, they give lip service to "interpretting, not making" the law -- but then go right on and do just that.  They make law in accordance with their own policy preferences.  Judge Sotomayor has even said that the court is "where policy is made." (ht: Drudge Report)

Presumably, one's in good shape if one is a Latina before Judge Sotomayor.  Perhaps not as much if one is a white male.  And that's the problem.  Where does it end if white men can only get a fair shake before white male judges, and Latinas can only get a fair shake before Latina judges?

By trashing the idea of judicial impartiality -- and discounting the importance of aspiring to it -- Judge Sotomayor engages in a thought (and judicial)  process that is not only unjust, but is deeply inimical to the success of a diverse country like ours.