July 14, 2009

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

On Saturday, Steve wrote, ?The goal of the Sotomayor hearings ? shouldn’t be to try to show that she’s outside the liberal mainstream, but to show what the liberal mainstream actually is.?

Well, this is certainly what I?d do if given the chance to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee?prove how Sotomayor is the ultimate product of American higher education. In her brief opening statement yesterday, as well as in most of her other biographical utterances over the years, including her legendary ?wise Latina woman? comment, Sotomayor has sounded all the pomo leitmotifs we?ve come to know and love: Though her test scores weren?t ?comparable to [her] colleagues at Princeton and Yale,? she (or rather these schools? admissions officers) persevered, and Sonia took her diverse self to Princeton and Yale anyway, where she liberated all around from the oppressive, stuffy white paradigm by dint of the richness of her experience!

I?ve never once believed that Sotomayor is actually a devotee of ?Latino nationalism? (even though this would be natural and understandable on some level, if still a major liability when it comes to jurisprudence.) The sense I get from Sotomayor is that she?s too clever for that, too good at grasping how the game is played at Princeton, Yale, and Pavia & Harcourt (the corporate firm she worked for in the ‘80s): in the elite institutions, hard-edged nationalists and separatists get passed over for those harmless minorities who speak of their ?uniquely American story,? play to whitey’s guilt complexes, and ask only for a seat on the gravy train?Sonia took it all the way up to the Supreme Court!

Judging from the first day, the Republicans? line seems to be that they think Sotomayor is well qualified for the court and all, but they fear she might be ?biased??the lady might even be a closet ?racialist? as she says the kinds of those things that, mutatis mutandis, are forbidden to the white senators. At the very least, she?s outside “the mainstream.?

If only this were so! Sonia Sotomayor is the mainstream and a far better representative of the culture of America?s political and educational institutions than almost anyone else on the court.

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