NYT: Political considerations, life experience only good if we like the results
posted at 9:31 am on May 27, 2009 by Slublog
The New York Times editorial board has nothing but praise for Judge Sonia Sotomayor today, plus a frank acknowledgment of the politics at play:
If Judge Sotomayor joins the court, it will be a special point of pride for Hispanic-Americans — as it was for Jews, blacks and women before them to see one of their own take a seat on the highest tribunal in the land. It will also bring the paltry number of female justices back to two. And as Democratic Party strategists have no doubt calculated, the selection could give Mr. Obama and his party a boost with a key voting group.
In October of 1991, the editorial board had a much different opinion of such political considerations:
The fault, in the end, is not that of the nominee but of the man who nominated him, the patron of little-known, untested or inflammatory appointments for offices reaching up to the Vice Presidency. By nominating this black conservative, President Bush serves a narrow partisan interest when the public has a right to expect him to nominate a lawyer or judge of proven distinction.
The Sotomayor editorial has great praise for how Sotomayor’s life experience has shaped her judicial rulings. The day after Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court, the Times dismissed his life experience because they didn’t like how it influenced his judicial philosophy:
As the nation waits to learn more about Clarence Thomas, the questions will concern not so much his talent but his character. Even his rise from poverty and racial isolation will be less interesting than how that experience has affected his regard for other Americans and whether he understands how their lives and rights are affected by law and official action.
The Times editorial board does display a double standard, but at the same time an appalling consistency to the belief that one cannot be a member of a historically aggrieved class and hold conservative viewpoints. To do so, in the minds of too many on the left, means you are fair game for invasions of your privacy, hate mail and in the case of Thomas, death wishes.