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Opinion / Editorial

Wednesday, 10 June, 2009 3:42 PM

Sotomayor: A Newyorkrican With An Ax To Grind

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Sonia Sotomayor is President Obama's nomination to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.

by Mike Wrathell


In her now-famous "A Latina judge's voice" speech at the UC Berkeley School of Law in 2001, Sonia Sotomayor issued a warning: "I warn Latinos in this room: Latinas are making a lot of progress in the old-boy network." I wonder what sort of warning she has for America at large now that her fast track to the Supreme Court has only a brief stop at the Senate before its final destination. Dare I believe a Senator might ask?

I must note that the use of the term "La Raza" at the UC Berkeley School of Law for its La Raza Law Journal and its La Raza Law Students Association, who co-hosted the symposium she addressed, is rather disturbing. The National Council of La Raza has been accused by former U.S. Congressman Charlie Norwood of Georgia as standing behind this statement: “For the race everything, outside the race nothing.” The National Council of La Raza says it does not believe that, but not all commentators are buying their spin. At any rate, "La Raza" does mean "The Race." The Council is one of the largest organizations for Hispanics in the nation and is also widely suspected of seeking the return of the Southwest USA to Mexico. Sorry, we won that war. Get over it! Remember the Alamo? We do!

Judge Sotomayor laments during her address that "too many of us educated here, barely speaks [Spanish]...." Most Americans are happy with the American dialect of English and have assimilated. And who does she mean by "us"? Clearly, she does not see herself as an American, but of some other group. She is not like us Americans, nor does she like us Americans, perhaps. I wonder what she thinks about Columbus Day. In Berkeley, Calif. where she spoke, Columbus Day was eliminated because Christopher Columbus was such a bad man. Instead of making a new holiday of Indigenous Peoples' Day, they simply replaced Columbus Day with it, to kill any joy Americans there might wish to express for the founding of a new nation with laws that Judge Sotomayor is supposed to respect, not replace.

If any language is to become America's second language should it not be the language of some of my ancestors, the French? The French helped us Americans defeat the British in the Revolutionary War. The Spanish were busy colonizing south of the colonies and offered neither party any support. But you don't see me whining about how I can't watch Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville" without English subtitles. I grew up in an English-only home, in English-only public schools in Detroit and Macomb County, and I am fine with that. Sonia would probably love to see English downgraded from our official language. A Senator should ask her about that, too. It won't be Carl Levin.

Judge Sotomayor, who refuses to pronounce her name without a Latin flair, unlike many non-English surnames of French, Japanese, German, Norwegian, Italian, Irish, Polish, and other extractions, told the largely Hispanic crowd assembled at the UC Berkeley School of Law that her "Latina identity" includes eating "pig intestines," "pig's feet," and "pig's tongues." Wow, I think I will stick to my snails. She also waxes narcissistically about her "Latina soul" being "nourished" as she watched her grandmother playing Bingo. I wonder if my "American soul" was nourished when I regularly tipped over the Monopoly board when I got too far behind my older sister and older brother when I was a 9-year-old brat....or can a little gringo's soul be nourished at all?

Moving on through her ethnocentric call-to-action, she muses that, "America has a deeply confused image of itself that is in perpetual tension." Speak for yourself, Your Honor. I am an American and have conversed with a lot of fellow Americans in my 48 years and have never heard of anyone but you having a deeply-confused image of our nation. I guess we move in different circles. One of her circles is the female-only, invitation-only Belizean Grove woman's social club in the Upper East Side of New York City. I wonder if the whole club is confused, or just her.

Sotomayor revisits the metaphor of America as a "melting pot," and says maybe we should call America "the salad bowl," instead--many cultures that do not truly assimilate except that they are doused with some raspberry vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing in the form of Roseanne Barr screeching the national anthem. (Come to think of it: are they twins?) Gee, I wonder if Thomas Jefferson was a cherry tomato and Benjamin Franklin a chickpea. I think The Founders would toss in their graves if they heard Sonia making mincemeat of their vision of America. She calls herself in this address a "Newyorkrican," a "Puerto Riqueña," a "Latina," and an "American-born child," but never, simply, an American.

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"....maybe we should call America 'the salad bowl,' instead--many cultures that do not truly assimilate except that they are doused with some raspberry vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing in the form of Roseanne Barr screeching the national anthem."


It gets better. Sonia reminisces on conversations with Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, a former colleague when she was a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Cedarbaum believes "that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law." Sound good? Not good enough for Sonia! Obama's oh-so-wise (but apparently not interested in being "transcendentally wise") Latina cuts down Cedarbaum's noble aspiration saying, "I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases." Well, not for you, obviously. Ask Frank Ricci, the dyslexic white fireman who spent a thousand dollars, studied intensively, and quit a second job for a test to be promoted to lieutenant and placed 6th of 77 takers, only to have his results tossed into Sonia's salad bowl of pig's feet and prejudice.

Judge José Cabranes, who was born in Sotomayor's beloved Puerto Rico, where her parents were born, said of her ruling in Ricci vs. DeStefano that it "contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case" and its "perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal." The United States Supreme Court, at the urging of Judge Cabranes and Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit, granted certiori and will likely send the matter back to district court to proceed to trial before Sonia is a Supreme, herself. The promotions of 16 whites and one Hispanic are at stake in the case. The city of New Haven, CT denied the promotions out of fear of violating Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress should really step up to the plate and say that promotion tests are not tantamount to Mein Kampf and are okay to use. How are we supposed to promote people? Nepotism? Skin color? Bribes? Besides, I remember Connie Chung on the CBS News in 1987 saying whites would be in the minority in the USA in 40 years. So that is less than 18 years from now. Will Sotomayor still be for affirmative action, then? A Senator should ask her that one, too, as she could still be a Supreme on that fateful day, and it could happen even sooner.

Ironically, her own words from that infamous Berkeley speech condemn her decision in Ricci: " understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Others simply do not care." Yes, Sonia, we have noticed your lack of empathy for Mr. Ricci. And we think we know why. Perhaps a Senator can ask her why that was, too.

Oh, there's more, much more. Sonia suggests "inherent physiological" and "cultural" differences between whites and Latinos could be why Latinos (and Latinas) make better judges. Is there something in the waters of San Juan and Mexico City? Go ahead and read her speech if you don't believe me, but have some Pepto-Bismol handy....

Now we get to "The Quote." The quote that supposedly, if read in the context of her entire speech is actually quite innocuous, just some aberration that she would have worded differently if she knew Obama was going to nominate her to the highest court of our land. Well, if you don't read the speech and will yourself to believe it is just a Latina version of "My Pet Goat," I suppose you could say that. But the context is a content rife with ethnocentric fervor. She is obsessed with her Latina-ness, and when she says, "....a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male..." she shows her true colors and her teeth. She thinks she is better, more fly, than a white guy.

One last noteworthy item from her Berkeley Address is the term "relative morality," something she says is a choice she is "forced to make." Unlike Judge Cedarbaum, Sotomayor will never attain a transcendent morality.

Cedarbaum would have been a much better choice. So would have Judge Cabranes. But President Obama, in his great wisdom, chose racial and gender politics over the best judge for the highest court in our land.

Sotomayor made a good call when she for all intents and purposes ended the MLB strike in 1995, but has made other bad calls, too. In United States v. Quattrone, she ruled that the press has the right to publish the names of jurors, citing The First Amendment. I am a big fan of The First Amendment, and there must be a compelling reason to restrict it. In this case, there is one. Jurors have been killed by rich and ruthless defendants, and there is no overwhelming reason to publish their names. I just saw that someone in the press wanted to know the condition of the bodies found in the Atlantic from the crash of Flight 447 off the coast of Brazil. It was cool that the press was told an answer to that question was not in "good taste," and to spare the families. I wish Sotomayor would think about the ramifications of her rulings before she jerks her knee. Just because the press wants something, doesn't mean you give it to them. What if they ask you what kind of underwear you wear?

One last case must be addressed here.

Sotomayor affirmed Maloney v. Cuomo, a case that said the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the States and local municipalities, like Chicago. Now, a case involving banning guns in Chicago might be heading to the Supreme Court. So it looks like the Supreme Court decision in favor of The 2nd Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller might not be the last word on the right to keep and bear arms. A Senator should ask her why she does not think The U.S. Constitution applies to the States, counties, cities, and townships as The Supremacy Clause of The U.S. Constitution says it does. Are you game, Debbie?

In closing, I just got back from Meijer and bought a box of Cracker Jack. I am half thinking that when I open it and look at the prize, I am going to find Sotomayor's law degree. I know I earned mine, but given her wild pronouncements and shaky decisions as a judge, she certainly does not belong anywhere near the Supreme Court. Please call your Senators and tell them to vote "No" to Sotomayor! The only way she could be worse is if she wanted to impose sharia law. But Obama is saving that for next time. Tell them Mike made you do it!






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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.