Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obama Defends Sotomayor Racist Remark

Sonia Sotomayor has not yet retracted some of her more offensive remarks. Apparently she lacks the strength to pull her foot out of her mouth long enough to say what she "really" meant. Always a gentleman, Barack Obama has come to her defense.

Her most infamous remark is as follows.

"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."

Barack Obama has now stated that "I'm sure she would have restated it" in an interview with NBC News. The only problem is that Sotomayor made the highly prejudicial statement in 2001. She has had ample time since then to blame context, circumstances at the time or demon rum. Even if she had disavowed her remarks, eight years is a long time. As it is, President Obama has disavowed them for her. Somehow, it rings a bit hollow.

"I think that when she's appearing before the Senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is," Obama stated somewhat testily in the NBC interview.

I hope Obama is right. A confirmation hearing should define the qualifications, judicial philosophy and level of bias of a Supreme court nominee should air any evidence that gives a sense of a candidate's profile in these areas. The American people will live for decades with the consequences of any Supreme Court appointment. A Supreme Court decision can have an immediate impact on the lives of millions of Americans that rivals that of any legislator. If there is any item on the agenda of a Senator that demands cross examination and weighty deliberation, it is the approval of a Supreme Court Justice. Anyone who dmands a hurried rubber stamp on a candidate is nothing more than a judicial huckster.

Opinion of Judge Sotomayor is likely to be divided among partisan lines. Far too much emphasis has been put on her ethnicity and far too little on her judicial philosophy. No one has any right to complain about the treatment of Sotomayor by those who question her judicial philosophy. It should be noted that it was the Democrats who added the verb "bork" to the political lexicon after Robert Bork was subjected to withering interrogation about his political views during confirmation hearings in 1987 which culminated in his rejection.

The precedent of the Bork confirmation hearings as well as the raucous and infamous grilling to which Clarence Thomas was subejected before he was ultimately approved should extinguish any pangs of conscience that believers in the "original intent" school of constitutional interpretation might feel in subjecting Sotomayor to needed scrutiny.

Americans are belatedly waking up to the fact that an Senatorial and Presidential elections are really elections to the Supreme Court. those who take "original intent" seriously now face an uphill battle with a President and majority party that tend towards judicial activism. Defeating such a corrosive agenda will certainly be an uphill battle.

There are vast sections of the African American and Hispanic communities that are deeply conservative on a wide range of issues. The opponents of Proposition 8 in California in 2008, which legally defined marriage as consisting of a man and a woman got a rude awakening to this fact when African American voters who turned out in large numbers to vote for Barack Obama also defeated gay marriage. The New American Dimensions blog reported as follows on the voter breakdown.

"According to exit polls, African-Americans in California supported proposition 8, which repealed same-sex marriages that had been legal in the state since May by a 3-1 margin. Black support for 8 was larger than any other group, including Hispanics, who were essentially split on the issue. It’s not clear that blacks alone gave prop 8 it’s margin of victory (blacks represented only 10 percent of the electorate on November 4, and for all groups it was voters over 65 who strongly favored prop 8)."

The Democrats and those who believe in "legislating from the bench" are eager to use African American and Hispanic jurists as ethnic cover for their agenda. The only way to fight this is to build a coalition across ethnic lines to defend the constitution and traditional values as seen across the ethnic spectrum. Anyone who has seen African American and Hispanic parents who struggle to educate their children in church schools knows that there is a constituency that is begging for mobilisation and leadership.

The Sotomayor Supreme court nomination will be difficult to derail. But the coalition to oppose it could be a potent political force in future Supreme Court nomination battles. Even if the battle seems hopeless, we should not back down.

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