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Some Republican’s Have Some Splainin’ To Do

Sotomayor Confirmation

The three ring circus better known as the Sonya Sotomayor confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court are over. Ms. Sotomayor sat in the witness chair before members of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee for more than three days in a quest to become the first Hispanic justice and only the third woman to take a seat on the nation’s highest court. Based on her performance the question is no longer if she’ll be confirmed but more likely when she will be confirmed.

Through it all, Ms. Sotomayor ducked and dodged her way through a gauntlet of questions that focused on the single issue of her comment to a group of Hispanics saying that she hoped a wise Latina woman would more often than not make better judgments than a while male who has not had that experience. Ms. Sotomayor was very careful and methodical with her answers confounding her detractors to emerge unscathed. Wise Latina woman one. White males zero. By the end of the hearings Ms. Sotomayor even had a few conservative Republicans wishing her the best although they did not make a commitment to vote to confirm her.

Ms. Sotomayor kept her cool when more than just once she was being portrayed at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing as a hotheaded judge who is sometimes mean to the white male lawyers who appear before her. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham brought the subject to the table citing anonymous comments from lawyers who described Ms. Sotomayor as a terror on the bench and called her temperamental and excitable and prone to make inappropriate emotional outbursts. To his credit, Mr. Graham admitted that there were favorable anonymous comments as well but didn’t bother to reveal any of them.

Even the bastion of legal expertise and adherence to law, Frank Ricci, testified at the hearing in an attempt to block her confirmation. Mr. Ricci is one of the Connecticut firefighters Ms. Sotomayor ruled against as a member of a three judge panel of an appeals court that heard the arguments in a legal battle over claims of racial discrimination by white firefighters who felt entitled to promotions that no one received because the result of the test used to measure promotion merit was heavily skewed along racial lines. Because the Supreme Court ruled in Mr. Ricci’s favor, using a different interpretation of laws established by previous court rulings and incidentally changing how law is applied from the bench, many want to argue that it only confirms that Ms. Sotomayor is not Supreme Court material despite the fact that four out of the nine justices agreed with Ms. Sotomayor’s panel. Had the retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall been replaced with another black man who worked hard to dismantle racial barriers instead of one who works to protect white privilege, those people would be singing a different tune.

But in the end Ms. Sotomayor remained unflappable and despite the best efforts from many high profile Republican politicians, her confirmation is in the bag. For a Republican Party that appears to have lost a great deal of its standing with the Hispanic population for a variety of reasons, like they being the champion of onerous immigration laws designed to appeal to their broad Caucasian base, the nomination of Ms. Sotomayor has spelled serious trouble ever since President Barack Obama announced her as his choice to replace retiring justice David Souter on the nation’s highest court.

With Latinos all across America paying attention to the confirmation hearings, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn does his best impersonation of Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo wagging his finger at Ms. Sotomayor as if she’s a scatterbrained Lucy Ricardo and saying, you got some splainin’ to do. While Ms. Sotomayor smiled, gave a polite laugh at the gesture, many in that Latino audience were probably thinking, what the fuck? It was probably an innocent stab at some humor. But it is also an undeniable manifestation of the disregard Mr. Coburn has for this heroine of the Hispanic community. Mr. Coburn doesn’t even see the hypocrisy of him judging the racial insensitivity of Ms. Sotomayor’s comments, while engaging his own comments dripping with insensitive stereotypes of Hispanics. Make that score wise Latina two and white males zero.

Mr. Coburn is a first class example of why the Republican Party is in the difficulty it is in today. They just don’t get it. This is just the latest double standard from a party with many of its leaders, whether they are national level politicians or just high profile conservatives, have accused Ms. Sotomayor of being the equivalent of a klan member in a white sheet and a blatant bigot out to avenge the wrongs done by white people.

Despite the all but assured nomination of Ms. Sotomayor, the Republicans will want to slow the process to a crawl in order to appeal to its conservative, prone to protect white privilege base. But Ms. Sotomayor’s supporters, the Democrats, want to schedule a committee vote as soon as possible before the Senate leaves in early August for a four week long summer break. A party line GOP vote against her seems unlikely. The politics are much too dicey. What’s a party with a focus on traditional values skewed in favor of a strong white populace base with little, if any, minority participation or representation to do?

Thursday, July 16, 2009 - Posted by | Democrats, Life, Politics, Racism, Republicans, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court, Thoughts

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