Why Sotomayor's Race Should be Irrelevant

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 27, 2009 10:25 AM
As part of their efforts to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, Democrats are hoping to avoid talking about her activist judicial philosophy, and instead, to dwell on her personal story -- including the chance for her to be the first Latina on the Supreme Court.

There is no doubt that her story is inspiring, but is a good biography relevant criteria for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court?

Moreover, the notion that Judge Sotomayor's background is in any way relevant to her nomination only serves to reinforce the pernicious argument that a judge's background and personal status should inform her decision-making on the bench.

Lastly, Democratic efforts to focus on her story and status is the height of hypocrisy.

Democrats, of course, were more than happy to try to block African-American Justice Clarence Thomas or to give former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez a hard time. Both these men had terrifically interesting stories -- which you probably have never heard about -- because the media didn't dwell on it. Minorities, you see, are only celebrated when they are liberals.

What is, perhaps, more concerning is that Democrats have made concerted efforts to destroy conservative minorities and women (think Sarah Palin), lest they undermine the notion that minorities and women can also be Republicans. Think I'm exaggerating? 

As Carol and Chris have both noted earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported on the following Democratic judicial strategy, culled from a Democratic staff strategy memo to Senator Dick Durbin in 2001, :

They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."

As you can see, Miguel Estrada was opposed by Democrats for strategic purposes -- partly because he was Hispanic. Democrats, you see, wouldn't like it if the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice were a conservative. Sadly, this discrimination is not widely known by the public -- or widely condemned by the media.

When it comes to judging Judge Sotomayor's fitness for the Supreme Court, we ought look past race -- and instead look to her past decisions and statements and judicial philosophy. Come to think of it, that's good advice for judges, too. Sadly, Judge Sotomayor, herself, has allowed race to play a part in her decisions. This, of course, will be the topic of many more conversations these next few weeks and months. In the meantime, I urge you to judge this judge by merit -- not by her story or race ...