Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made the rounds on Capitol Hill this week. Sotomayor met with Democratic and Republican Senate leaders to press her case for confirmation.
The prospect of the first Latina on the Supreme Court has caused some Republican “white guys” to throw down the race card. But with polls showing more than half of Americans support Sotomayor’s confirmation, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have reversed course.
The execrable Patrick Buchanan, however, is standing pat.
In a recent post, “In Defense of Sonia Sotomayor,” Yvette Carnell, a political consultant and former Capitol Hill staffer, wrote:
There is nothing so demeaning to political discourse as the injection of race as a weapon, so I’ve become increasingly livid over the past few days while watching right wing hit squads refer to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a “racist.”
Moments after the White House announcement that President Obama was nominating Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice Souter, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich broadcast his objections via “Twitter.” He called Sotomayor a racist for a 2005 comment in which she stated, “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.”
Gingrich’s “tweet” was the shot heard round the world after which other Republicans, bloggers and party leaders piled on to add to the chorus of ideologues accusing Sotomayor of racism. Even some liberals have suggested that Sotomayor will need to distance herself from her 2005 comment. As an African American woman, I disagree.
Sotomayor believes her race and culture give her a unique perspective which benefits her when deciding cases. To say that her experience colors her view of the world and, therefore, her interpretation of the law, is not racist. It is human. Remember, the left wing criticism of Justice Roberts during his confirmation was that he too often sided with the powerful rather than with the people.
Empathy is not just some warm and fuzzy impediment that we must overcome in favor of reason. It is an essential ingredient for anyone who wishes to sit on the bench of the highest court in the most powerful country in the world. It is absolutely necessary for someone in such an esteemed and awe-inspiring position to fully contemplate the impact of his or her decisions on America’s citizens. A citizenry, which ethnically, culturally and economically, is among the most diverse of any country in the world. Empathy is the imaginative tool which assists us in identifying with the thoughts, feelings and aspirations of others.
I feel you, sister.
You can read Yvette’s full post here.
For more info on Sotomayor and race, check out PolitiFact.com’s Truth-O-Meter.