Writing for the National Journal Magazine, Stuart Taylor has a pair of outstanding articles, both written before Ms. Sotomayor was nominated for the SCOTUS, which very helpfully explain the concern of her playing identity politics.
The case you’ll be hearing about:
Frank Ricci, a firefighter in New Haven, Conn., worked hard, played by the rules, and earned a promotion to fire lieutenant. But the city denied him the promotion because he is not black. Ricci sued, along with 16 other whites and one Hispanic firefighter.
How did this happen?
Ricci studied for eight to 13 hours a day to prepare for the combined written and oral exam in 2003 that he hoped would win him a promotion. He spent more than $1,000 buying the books that the city had suggested as homework and paying an acquaintance to read them onto audiotapes. (Ricci is dyslexic and learns better by listening.) And he got one of the highest scores.
But Ricci and other would-be lieutenants and captains with high scores did not get the promotions they expected. The reason was that — because not enough black firefighters had done well enough to be eligible — New Haven decided to discard the test results and make no promotions at all.
Naturally, Ricci and his colleagues sued. And Sotomayor was among the judges who supported New Haven’s decision to discard the test results. Read the whole thing. Taylor’s conclusion:
“Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race,” Obama said in his much-acclaimed March 18 speech about race. “So when they … hear that an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed … resentment builds over time.”
So it does. But based on Obama’s record and the views of the civil-rights specialists on his transition team, there is every reason to worry that he will appoint civil-rights enforcers, judges, and justices bent on perpetuating the race-based discrimination against whites (and Asians) in many walks of life that is exemplified by the New Haven firefighter case.
I suspect that deep down, Obama would appreciate the simple injustice of the New Haven firefighter case. It would be most interesting to find out.
Taylor’s second article was written just a few days ago. It contains this quote from Sotomayor:
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” — Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001
And these thoughts from Mr. Taylor about her speech at U.C. Berkeley (my Alma Mater):
Sotomayor also referred to the cardinal duty of judges to be impartial as a mere “aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.” And she suggested that “inherent physiological or cultural differences” may help explain why “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”
So accustomed have we become to identity politics that it barely causes a ripple when a highly touted Supreme Court candidate, who sits on the federal Appeals Court in New York, has seriously suggested that Latina women like her make better judges than white males.
Indeed, unless Sotomayor believes that Latina women also make better judges than Latino men, and also better than African-American men and women, her basic proposition seems to be that white males (with some exceptions, she noted) are inferior to all other groups in the qualities that make for a good jurist.
Any prominent white male would be instantly and properly banished from polite society as a racist and a sexist for making an analogous claim of ethnic and gender superiority or inferiority.
Read the whole thing.