Tag Archives: scotusblog

Thoughtful Thursday – A Wise Latina Woman Once Said . . .

That wisdom has nothing to do with race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

Much is being made of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonya Sotomayor’s 2001 comments that she “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.”

Much should be made of that statement because it is either a statement made with poor judgment or one made with the conviction that she is better equipped to make a decision because she is a Latina woman. Either of the rationales for the statements is troubling.

As a judge and a person in the public eye, Sotomayor should at least be more circumspect when speaking. Being a fellow lawyer, we are taught to carefully consider what we say and write. To not do so and speak thoughtlessly can lead to repercussions, witnessed here by words that are coming back to haunt her.

Being a Latina who understands the whole underdog thing — my parents came here from Cuba, I wasn’t born here and didn’t speak English when I went to kindergarten, I went to a top tier college on a scholarship and to law school — I appreciate how hard Sotomayor has worked to get where she is.

But isn’t that underdog story typical of America? Isn’t that one of the wondrous things about this country? My husband’s grandparents all came here from Italy. Barely spoke English, but learned. Worked hard to buy homes, send their kids to school. Grand kids have prospered.

It’s the American dream. Work hard and prosper. Whether you’re white, black, brown, Italian, Cuban, Irish, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, America is the land of opportunity. Equal opportunity, sometimes not as equal as we would like, but certainly doable.

I should know. I did it. My parents did it. My husband’s grandparents did it. So did millions of others.

But back to Sotomayor. She did it and we should applaud her for it, but not just because she is a Latina woman.

You might remember that “just because” discussion from months back. The risks of making decisions based on “just because.”

When the nomination was mentioned, many people in the office looked to me and asked, “What do you think?”

I wondered, did they ask their white male counterparts right off the bat, or just me – the Latina Woman.

That’s one of the problems of “just because.” Everything you do is tainted by the “You got that (job/scholarship/nomination/published) just because you were (white, black, brown, Italian, Cuban, Irish, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim).”

Just because diminishes you and everything you do. It diminishes those around you and builds resentment.

If we are to nominate Judge Sotomayor to the Nation’s most important Court, please let it be on the basis of something other than just because.

I, for one, intend to read more about her and her decisions and you should as well. You can click here for the White House press release. Read about some of her decisions (links provided, although I do not vouch for their authenticity nor the opinions which may be expressed therein).

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/judge-sotomayor%E2%80%99s-opinions-with-dissents-%E2%80%93-part-i/

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/05/26/us/0526-scotus.html

http://ninthjustice.nationaljournal.com/2009/06/debate-continues-on-sotomayors.php

And do you know what? If you take even one minute to read one of these cases, you will be one up on Harry Reid, who said, “I understand that during her career, she’s written hundreds and hundreds of opinions. I haven’t read a single one of them, and if I’m fortunate before we end this, I won’t have to read one of them.” Courtesy Politico – click here for more.

Just some thoughts for you on this rainy Thursday.