What I wish some senator would say to Sotomayor *UPDATED*

The Washington Post is warning Republican senators not to be mean to poor Judge Sotomayor.  It’s a funny (inadvertently funny) article, because the Post editors acknowledge that Obama was anything but gracious when he was a Senator; then they explain why, even though he wasn’t gracious, he was right; and then they urge Republicans to be totally nice to Sotomayor, presumably because Obama is still right.

Of course, the main reason Republicans are being told to be nice is because Sotomayor is a woman and a Hispanic.  If I were a senator, my opening statement, before I began my questions, would be short and sweet:

Welcome, Judge Sotomayor.  Before I begin my questions about your qualifications and your understanding of a Supreme Court justice’s role, I’d like to address one thing.  My questioning will be rigorous.  I will not offend you, and every woman and Hispanic in America, by acting as if either your sex or your ethnic identity have rendered you incapable of standing up to the same brisk scrutiny as any other judicial candidate who has appeared before this body.

Mine is a constitutional role and I take it very seriously.  The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal in this land, and it is the court that it is responsible for ensuring that the laws of this land comport with the Constitution.  I would therefore be remiss in my duty, and insulting to you, if I treated you as a lesser being by denying you the opportunity fully to explain your views.

UPDATE: More on the race issue.  After you’ve what Tom Elia has at his blog, come back and tell me if Jesse Washington’s comments make any sense at all.

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  • suek

    I want to know what makes her a “latina” woman. She was born in the USA, she was raised and educated in the USA, Puerto Rico is a USA territory…so why isn’t she “American”? what are the cultural influences that make her “latina”? How many generations does it take to become “American” instead of someone from the country of their ancestors?

    What does that make Obama?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Obama’s an anthropologist. He transcends cultural limitations.

  • Danny Lemieux

    What does that make Obama?

    Confused. Conflicted.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    If I were one of those senators I would ask her straight out:

    Hypothetically, who would reach a better conclusion in her nomination?

    A) The white male Senator, with “less life experiences”, who votes in favour of her nomination?


    B) The female Senator of color, with a “richer” life expereince, who votes against her nomination?

    Suek – assuming that your question isn’t rhetorical, the fact that she grew up in a Spanish-speaking household is what many consider to be the fact that makes her “Latina.” I agree, however, that such identity-politics is causing problems in this country. It goes against American Exceptionalism.

    As a side show I find it interesting that some are trying to claim that she isn’t the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court since Judge Benjamin Cardozo was of Sephardic Portuguese ancestry.

    I do have a question for others here. As I am in the New York TV-viewing area the local news has nothing but “local girl done good” stories about her nomination. How is it playing out in the rest of the country?

  • suek

    No…not rhetorical – not really.

    My DIL was born in the USA of Columbian parents. She speaks Spanish (_not_ Mexican, she says. In fact when she took the exam for ESL qualifications for teaching, she nearly failed the culture portion – it seems that all the questions are fairly specifically Mexican related), her mother speaks English, but prefers Spanish. She does not consider herself a “latina”, although she still goes to Columbia to visit her grandparents, so has fairly strong contacts with the South American world.

    So why does one consider herself “Latina” and one does not?

    I get the feeling that like Obama, she had a need to find a group to identify with during the college years… Not enough self-identification to stand alone. A way to stand out from the crowd…”I’m different from most of you…I’m _special_”.