Sonia Sotomayor’s greatest hits

posted at 10:55 am on May 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Courtesy of our friends at Verum Serum, who have plenty more to say about Sonia Sotomayor. Not only do we have Sotomayor essentially admitting that she sees lawmaking as the purview of courts, but a speech given in 2001 makes Sotomayor sound like the kind of identity-politics hack that most people saw in Lani Guinier when her appointment in the Clinton administration went down to defeat.

First, the video:

Um, all of the legal defense funds out there, um, they’re looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. Um, um — [laughter] — I know. I’m not promoting it, I’m not advocating it, and, I’m … you know. [laughter]

If she’s that erudite in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee when answering this question, the Republicans won’t have to push hard to bounce Sotomayor out of the Supreme Court. She knew she’d overreached and couldn’t even explain herself in front of a friendly audience, who realized quite well that her backpedaling was entirely self-serving and incoherent.

Sotomayor was much more clear in another law-school speech in 2001, this time at UC Berkeley law school. Facing another sympathetic crowd, she informed the graduates that, contrary to public opinion, color and gender do mean something in qualifications for public service:

“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.” — Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001

Stuart Taylor picked this quote from deep within a May 15th profile of Sotomayor in the New York Times, and wonders in the National Journal whether the Times would have buried a similar quote by Samuel Alito during his confirmation process:

So accustomed have we become to identity politics that it barely causes a ripple when a highly touted Supreme Court candidate, who sits on the federal Appeals Court in New York, has seriously suggested that Latina women like her make better judges than white males.

Indeed, unless Sotomayor believes that Latina women also make better judges than Latino men, and also better than African-American men and women, her basic proposition seems to be that white males (with some exceptions, she noted) are inferior to all other groups in the qualities that make for a good jurist.

Any prominent white male would be instantly and properly banished from polite society as a racist and a sexist for making an analogous claim of ethnic and gender superiority or inferiority.

Imagine the reaction if someone had unearthed in 2005 a speech in which then-Judge Samuel Alito had asserted, for example: “I would hope that a white male with the richness of his traditional American values would reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn’t lived that life” — and had proceeded to speak of “inherent physiological or cultural differences.”

That fits entirely within Barack Obama’s “empathy” guidelines, and it serves as an admission that Sotomayor has more interest in outcomes than in the law. If so, she should run for Congress, where policy gets made. The reason race and gender shouldn’t matter at all is because judges should apply the law, not their “life experiences” or their “empathy” for specific outcomes. Sotomayor sounds like Judge Roy Bean, calling the courts a law unto themselves, rather than a thoughtful jurist interested in applying the law created by a representative democracy.

Is this enough to derail Sotomayor? Perhaps not, but it’s plenty to assure a colorful confirmation hearing, especially with Jeff Sessions serving as ranking Republican.


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If she is Latina is she Catholic? That could be interesting… an actual pro-choice Catholic deciding abortion issues. Ouch. Although I have no idea what religion the other justices are, except Scalia and probably Alito. Oh and Thomas is Catholic isn’t he, he went to parochial schools right?

Just interesting, not really important.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

She’s garnered bi-partisan support before,

AnninCA on May 26, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Bipartisan as in the Arlen Specters of the world support her? WHOOPPEEE!!

angryed on May 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:46 AM

It’s perception. Goldberg isn’t saying that the GOP is anti-Hispanic; he’s saying that GOP opposition to Sotomayor allows the government to portray it as such.

Or are you really trying to tell me that the Left tells the truth?

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

The GOP will make its stand in the finest tradition of the French army.

“Don’t worry, we will fight the Boche after they overrun Paris, it’s all part of the strategic master plan, you’ll see.”

Bishop on May 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Jonah Golberg, at NRO’s the corner:

But one advantage for Obama in picking the most left-leaning Hispanic possible/confirmable is that it actually allows the Democrats to — once again — cast Republicans as anti-Hispanic. If Obama picked a centrist, opposition would have been principled, but pro-forma. By picking Sotomayor, conservatives will no doubt demand full-throated opposition, which plays perfectly to Obama’s purposes (so long as he doesn’t dump Sotomayor for some, any, reason). I don’t think this was the key factor in his decision, but you can be sure the White House will love casting conservative opposition in those terms.

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:44 AM

OF COURSE this is the key factor. This White House does NOTHING without first considering the politics and how they can use it to either (a)bash George W. Bush some more; or (b)make Republicans look like bigots and nutcases. They are hoping for the GOP to do a face-plant on this with Hispanics. I hope they do not take the bait.

rockmom on May 26, 2009 at 11:49 AM

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

She’s definitely of Catholic stock. Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito – all Catholics. (As a non-denom Protestant I chuckle that Souter is an Episcopalian. Of course he is.)

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Oh great. Ramesh Ponnuru says that Sotomayor is “Obama’s Harriet Miers.” Talk about scoring an own goal, dude!

starfleet_dude on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

RACIST!!!!!

TimeTraveler on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Actually my husband just pointed out to me that the first Latino Supreme Court Justice was Benjamin Cardozo. He was descended from Portuguese Jews… and a cousin of Emma Lazarus.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

She’s garnered bi-partisan support before, so I can’t see why the GOP would object to her. This is a situation where it would be awfully easy for the GOP to fall into being truly obstructionist with no gain.

Why go there?

AnninCA on May 26, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Because the dems have set the rules…she should be treated just like Estrada, Bork, Thomas, etc.
No more, no less…not be “obstructionist”, but making sure her values, her beliefs, her opinions, are fully understood.
You don’t want to know if she thinks taking personal property “for the good of the country” is something she embraces?
You don’t want to know that she really does support racial gerrymandering, like the organizations she serves on as a director?
Or do you just want a rubber stamp, and then find out later that she wants complete open borders, amnesty for all and citizenship for every one who has established residency.
I think we have a right to know what these justices think, what they believe, and what they are advocating….and you don’t?

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:52 AM

The GOP response will be “We’d like to thank our good friend the Chairman of the Committee for bringing such a fine nominee forward and we’d also like to congratulate the President of the United States…blah…blah…blah…” Not 1…count them…not 1 Republican will stand up to this nominee! Bet on it! They are now, every one of them under their desks, thumbs in their mouths whimpering like school girls as they wet themselves… And do you seriously think Michael Dill Weed Steele will say anything negative? C’mon! The Republican Party of today is totally lame and totally lost!

sabbott on May 26, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Actually my husband just pointed out to me that the first Latino Supreme Court Justice was Benjamin Cardozo. He was descended from Portuguese Jews… and a cousin of Emma Lazarus.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Excellent point.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 11:54 AM

No bigots on the highest court!

ExTex on May 26, 2009 at 11:54 AM

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM
She’s definitely of Catholic stock. Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito – all Catholics. (As a non-denom Protestant I chuckle that Souter is an Episcopalian. Of course he is.)

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM

So what you are saying is the Pope really does control our government! (Joke) And everyone is always going on about the Jews! (Another Joke)!

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Would you have preferred Judge Wood, or professor Kagan?

How about preferring none of them? I don’t understand this “Well it could have been worse so let’s go with it” rationalization; stand for something and resist them all.

I’m tired of no one drawing a line in the sand and caving like cowards because they might lose a vote, there is something bigger here to defend and no one seems willing to do it.

Bishop on May 26, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Bishop, I understand the prevailing sentiment here. Unlike most folks here, I have actually read many of Judge Sotomayors opinions. When I say that she is the best Republicans could have hoped for I am soft selling. She is going to be great. Look at her personal story, her pick yourself up by the bootstraps upbringing, it is not the stuff of an Ivory tower liberal. Her opinions do not display a liberal bent, either. She is not Migel Estrada, but she is not bad.

Vote to confirm Sotomayor and reference Chuck Schumer’s shoddy treatment of Migel Estrada and Republicans can score points while voting in favor for a nominee they cannot block anyhow.

If, as expected, a second nominee comes along, say Cass Sundstein, who is truly an ideologue, then Republicans have added credibility to oppose him on ideological grounds.

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Or are you really trying to tell me that the Left tells the truth?

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Don’t ask such a stupid question…
I am saying that Estrada was blocked by the dems (and by her), that is a defense.
President Bush already attempted to get a Hispanic nominated. It was blocked by the “Left”.

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I agree, but still she needs to run the “gauntlet”, to allow us to know her better.
The dems have set the stage for these inquisitions, we should proceed to extract from her as much information as possible.
Not to block, but to inform, and to make sure the nomination is appropriate.
Treat her like Bork, Estrada, Roberts, Thomas…no more, no less.

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:59 AM

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I laughed aloud!

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Right, but the Left lies. Once the idea is out – and it is – it’s going to be hard to recapture it. We have an infinite amount of defenses – I think Bush speaks Spanish, and Obama doesn’t – but they know that already.

At least we’ll always have the Cubans.

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Food for thought.

I am only going by rumour myself… seriously that all I have. You think I’m going to read a bunch of boring court rulings?

And my natural knee jerk reaction to oppose everything Obama does… on principle of course. Did I mention I’m a little snarky today? I’m nervous about the California ruling that’s coming today.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 12:00 PM

I’m sick to death of bigots who cloak themselves in their minority status to justify their own racism and sexism. If you can’t stand on your own two feet without dragging your race or gender into it, then you’ve got no business in the game.

Dee2008 on May 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Sotomayor’s opinions are, indeed, anathema to anyone who values written law over judicial fiat. She must be stopped, and she needs to be bloodied enough through the process to give all liberals second thoughts about going through it. Your idea about the GOP “scor[ing] points” for use later has been proven wrong over and over. The right is never allowed to “score points”. There is no such thing as goodwill that can be built up with the left. The left are irrational and stuck in the moment, except when they want to twist history to support some silly argument they are trying to make.

The GOP must oppose Sotomayor with all their might and then they must do the same with the next Precedential nominee. There is going to be no rest in this fight with the America-hating left and there will be no points accumulated, or goodwill gotten, with the left. This has been the lesson of history and the GOP would do well to show they’ve learned it.

Sotomayor is dangerous as a SCOTUS justice, released to no longer have to worry about what idiotic things she says on tape, since she’ll be there for life .. at least until The Precedent is found to be ineligible and his signature null and void for everything he’s signed while in office. But, until then, the GOP needs to fight every fight with all their might, as if it were the last battle. They cannot let up.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Taking away the earned glory of a firefighting team because they didn’t have a pesky minority isn’t “up by the bootstraps” to me.

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

And Sundstein too would pass, why, because the GOP “cannot block him anyhow” either. Ogabe and his minions will always manage to find a physical reason that his nominees cannot be resisted, and failing that, continue to paint the GOP as out of touch hicks “in this time of great crisis blah blah.”

Someone, somewhere has to get over this “OMG, we might be branded as racists” thing that the left is always throwing in our faces, take a stand for once and denounce it. We are so busy trying to find the perfect place to ambush the enemy armored column that we fail to notice the paratroopers descending over our strategic cities.

‘Best of the worst’ is what has been driving this nation into the ground since Ogabe took office.

Bishop on May 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

emailnuevo on May 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Those are both good points too.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM

“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,” said Judge Sotomayor…

This is all I need to know.

Racist.

Let’s try this: “I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female who hasn’t lived that life,”

Nuff said.

Claypigeon on May 26, 2009 at 12:10 PM

Scoring any points with Democrats would imply they have some kind of “good faith” recognition and they don’t. It is never about fairness or truth only about pushing their agenda.

petunia on May 26, 2009 at 12:11 PM

sabbot:

Not 1…count them…not 1 Republican will stand up to this nominee! Bet on it!

I think Jeff Sessions would disagre with your comment.

jbh45 on May 26, 2009 at 12:13 PM

At least have some fun out of it … go to the Wikipedia article and add the link to the youtube video, in addition to quotes that prove by her own words that she is a far-left judicial activist. The “totally objective” (har har) administrators will then apply increasing restrictions to the page, proving that they can’t handle the truth.

corona on May 26, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Didn’t I see her in the musical:
“The Left Side Story”
Sonia, I just picked a liberal named Sonia…

right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 12:15 PM

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.

I would hope that a wise white male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a Latino woman who hasn’t lived that life.
Now we see that for what it is.

PaddyJ on May 26, 2009 at 12:16 PM

How come these cow-shit-eating-pigs can be racists and get away with it and we can’t? Just like Claypigeon on May 26, 2009 at 12:10 PM said. Just turn it around and see what you get.

cjs1943 on May 26, 2009 at 12:16 PM

According to The Precedent and Sotomayor, the blindfold needs to be taken off of Lady Justice, as justice is no longer blind but empathetic and identity-based. The barbarians have crashed the gates and are busy burning the city to the ground. It is s sad state that signals how close to the end of the run we are.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 12:35 PM

White men can’t judge.

Woody on May 26, 2009 at 12:38 PM

It’s Joe Biden in Drag

Kini on May 26, 2009 at 12:40 PM

I will quote a fellow over at The Volokh Conspiracy:

“It’s good to see that Obama is preserving the character of the seat, by nominating a mediocrity to replace another mediocrity.”

It fits.

Dawnsblood on May 26, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Ugly Betty’s Mom

Christien on May 26, 2009 at 12:43 PM

One really must wonder how the US achieved the status of the world’s super-power in just about everything with all those dumb, white males that built this nation. It’s a riddle. Just dumb luck, I guess.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Sonia proves that some animals are more equal than others on Obama’s Farm.

It’s just “cultural pride”, not blatant bigotry! I mean, it’s not like she said “macaca” or anything…. /s

Lockstein13 on May 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM

AnninCa is for her? I’m against her. I hope she doesn’t cut me, main.

2Tru2Tru on May 26, 2009 at 12:52 PM

The anti-Constitution reparations candidate.

tarpon on May 26, 2009 at 12:52 PM

When the Senate voted 67-29 to confirm Sotomayor to the appeals court in 1998, here’s the Republicans who supported her and who are still in the Senate:

Robert Bennett (R-Utah)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Oh yeah, and Specter also voted for Sotomayor, but he’s now a Democrat. So let’s not pretend a filibuster is going to happen.

starfleet_dude on May 26, 2009 at 12:54 PM

I consider Alito and Roberts proof that there is a God.
petunia on May 26, 2009 at 11:30 AM

… and Clarence Thomas is proof that God has a sense of humor.

benny shakar on May 26, 2009 at 1:15 PM

A moron has appointed a moron. Shockah!

Akzed on May 26, 2009 at 1:19 PM

… and Clarence Thomas is proof that God has a sense of humor.

benny shakar on May 26, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Why?

Proud Rino on May 26, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Contrast her statement…

“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.” — Judge Sonia Sotomayor

…with what the Bible says about favoritism…

Laws of Justice and Mercy

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.
2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

Exodus 23:1-3

dominigan on May 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Sosotmayor and physiological differences (just before the latina woman/white male comment):

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 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.

This is proof that she’s a moron. Intelligence is race/gender/culture-independent. The fact that she doesn’t understand this shows that she is not intelligent. She would probably try to squirm around and claim that “wise” means something else, but I am well past entertaining the idiotic arguments of these identity-whores.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 1:26 PM

dominigan on May 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM

I would add that The Bible understood that empathy was not the correct way for a judge to decide:

3. “neither shalt thou favour a poor man in his cause”

Exodus 23:3

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 1:29 PM

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Oops. You got that one at the end. My mistake.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 1:30 PM

I always thought that the late Harry Browne had the proper take on this situation. When he ran for president as a Libertarian in ’96, he was asked the question about appointing an SC justice. Harry’s response was, “First I’d ask the potential nominee, ‘Do you know how to read?’. After the shock wore off, and he or she nodded or responded affirmatively, I’d then ask, ‘What do the words “Congress shall make no law” mean?’ ”
THAT’S how you handle it!!

RWLA on May 26, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Lots of great posts here; my initial thought was that, unless she was a totally egregious pick on idealogical grounds, we might want to go easy – she’s only replacing Souter, and doesn’t really alter the swing of the court too much.

Then, I read this;

Because the dems have set the rules…she should be treated just like Estrada, Bork, Thomas, etc.
No more, no less…not be “obstructionist”, but making sure her values, her beliefs, her opinions, are fully understood.
You don’t want to know if she thinks taking personal property “for the good of the country” is something she embraces?
You don’t want to know that she really does support racial gerrymandering, like the organizations she serves on as a director?
Or do you just want a rubber stamp, and then find out later that she wants complete open borders, amnesty for all and citizenship for every one who has established residency.
I think we have a right to know what these justices think, what they believe, and what they are advocating….and you don’t?
right2bright on May 26, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Brilliantly stated!

And this, as well;

Vote to confirm Sotomayor and reference Chuck Schumer’s shoddy treatment of Migel Estrada and Republicans can score points while voting in favor for a nominee they cannot block anyhow.
If, as expected, a second nominee comes along, say Cass Sundstein, who is truly an ideologue, then Republicans have added credibility to oppose him on ideological grounds.
Angry Dumbo on May 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

So, combining these two posts, we get what I think would be a really good meld of principal and tactics – give Judge Sotomayer a fair examination – point out that we don’t Bork people – send her off for an up/down vote.

Then, loudly announce “this is how we do this process the right way.”

This keeps the powder dry, for the next nominee, as well (as Angry Dumbo suggests.)

massrighty on May 26, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Now watch the Left and the MSM claim that Sotomayor is the Latino Einstein and continue the template that Sarah Palin is the biggest bimbo and most extremist wacko in the history of America.

technopeasant on May 26, 2009 at 3:46 PM

If judges have no problem w/ ideological and personal interpretations of the law, then neither should jurors.

Rae on May 26, 2009 at 5:17 PM

Too easy.

DDT on May 26, 2009 at 9:25 PM

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