Conservatives said this sort of talk was racist, but liberals and progressives insisted it was not. They said she was simply expressing the basic truth behind the push for diversity: Women, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ individuals, and other minorities come from different places than “old white men” do, and those backgrounds necessarily influence how they act as judges, politicians, business executives, community leaders, and so forth.
And Justice Sotomayor’s views have not changed since then. Just a couple of months ago, she said the Supreme Court needed more diversity: “I, for one, do think there is a disadvantage from having (five) Catholics, three Jews, everyone from an Ivy League school.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if Justice Sotomayor and her supporters are right about that, then Donald Trump is also right to be concerned about Judge Curiel’s ethnicity. If she and her supporters are right, then Curiel’s Mexican heritage inevitably will color how he thinks about things, including things like Donald Trump.
Now, I realize this argument sounds a whole lot different when it comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. When it comes out of his mouth, it sounds like he’s saying people are defined by their ethnic heritage — that the thoughts and behavior of women, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ individuals, and old white men are determined by their demographic category, not their individual selves. When you put it that baldly, it does sound pretty racist.