May 26, 2009

Once upon a time, there were The Founders. Though tragically trapped in their slave holding and lack of gender and ethnic diversity, these wise fellows envisioned that on the American continent might arise a new nation that would evolve into exactly what we have today. And in order to make this dream a reality, they emitted a pool of timeless and amorphous “€œvalues”€”€”values that have now been actualized as a poor Latina girl from the South Bronx who has been appointed to the Supreme Court.

I”€™ve often thought that most every journalist in Washington has this kind of PBS version of history swirling around in his head. And this morning, it must have been quite exciting for them all as they heard their fantasy recounted to them in detail by that proverbial Poor-Latina-Girl-From-The-South-Bronx-Who-Made-It-All-The-Way-To-The-Supreme Court”€”and she even did it with one of those bland, PBS voices you’d expect to hear narrating the latest installment of The American Experience.

To be fair, I was rather surprised to read a hit piece on Sotomayor, in The New Republic no less (!?!), in which she’s described by a former colleague as “not that smart and kind of a bully.”€ This about someone who graduated Summa Cum Laude! Affirmative Action Admissions can get you into Princeton (just ask the First Lady), but it doesn”€™t guarantee that you make it to the top of the grading scale (just ask the First Lady). So, I suspect that Sotomayor is at the very least very clever and tenacious.

In the American Left/Right paradigm, conservatives talk about “€œstrict constructionist”€ vs. “€œjudicial activists”€ when it comes to SCOTUS nominees. But their overriding concern is Roe, Roe, Roe (with perhaps terrorists detainee decisions now playing a minor role.) And this time “€˜round, the abortion issue might be all the more contentious since, as Obama mentioned in his introduction of his nominee, Sotomayor went to Catholic school and, according to her Wiki page, is a practicing Roman Catholic (?). 

But the nomination is, for me at least, even more in-ter-esting in terms of race issues. Not only did Sotomayor make it clear that she”€™d be representin”€™ the South Bronx (you go, girl!), she also seems to have internalized many of the PC memes of academic Critical Race Theory:

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.

Though we might want to ponder just what “€œbetter”€ might entail, it’s clear that ol”€™ Sonia plans to be the “€œSocial Justice Justice,” and if confirmed, she”€™d be constantly yammering about how she’s the dog-gone only one who could possibly understand the real “€œcontext”€ of this or that case that comes before the court. 

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Furthermore, I don”€™t think it’s any coincidence that though Sotomayor hasn”€™t offered any major opinions on abortion in her career, she was actually one of the seven justices who this past month opined against Frank Ricci et al. in the recent “€œreverse discrimination”€ case, in which Ricci and 16 other firefighters sued the city of New Haven after it discarded some standardized test scores that didn”€™t adhere to America’s a priori notion of the proper racial distribution of academic outcomes. Obama has given us a glimpse of his “€œpost-racial America.”€

(Sotomayor’s decision on Ricci also reveals one of those funny things about most Ivy League, Perfect Résumé-type people (which Steven Pinker talked about in The Blank Slate and which Steve Sailer has discussed numerous times): The Great Test Takers are all obsessed with “€œgetting in”€ to the Big Universities, mostly for what it reveals to the world about their SAT and LSAT scores. But when it comes to other people, especially non-White and non-Asian other people, they take it as a matter of doctrine that scores on intelligence tests are completely irrelevant and should be discarded at judicial or legislative whim, and if you talk about them at all, that probably means you”€™re racist.)  

Will the Religious Right, and other groups who insist that we must always rally behind Republicans because “€œit’s about the judges,”€ go after Sotomayor on these “€œrace”€ issues? My sense is that they will not. But I”€™d love to be pleasantly surprised.     


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