Virtual Voices

Republicans and Judge Latina

Politics

President Obama's choosing a woman of Puerto Rican descent for the Supreme Court is politically brilliant. Republicans should do enough public political grumbling to appease the party base but go "protest light" on opposing the 54-year-old even though she has made racially reasoned statements like this:

"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."

I have given up all hope that Supreme Court justice nominees will ever be chosen for their ability to rule according to the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe conservatives should stop whining about the "good ol' days" and accept the fact that the whole process is now 100 percent political. For example, "Sotomayor" could also be translated as "re-election security" for President Obama.

Is she qualified? Yes. Sotomayor's credentials are solid and are well beyond what the Constitution requires---i.e., that the person simply be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Sotomayor graduated from Ivy League schools so she's obviously more qualified than those of us who graduated from football factories, some might joke. I have recently wondered why people march around ranting about the "qualifications" for Supreme Court nominees when, technically, President Obama could have chosen one of the NBA referees obsessed with calling dozens of superfluous fouls during this year's playoffs.

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Will Sotomayor be an activist judge? Most likely. Like any other judge, her experience may lead to forming opinions different than, say, a "white male." Her opinion, of course, presumes truth to the myth among many minorities that all white men are homogeneous and have the same set of experiences, most of which were not abounding in value. However, an additional myth claimed by those critical of Sotomayor's confession of extra-constitutional influence is that conservative judges are not activist judges. If an anti-abortion, anti-affirmative action, anti-all-things-liberal judge was nominated, conservatives would be pleased and the nominee could conveniently hide his or her judicial activism behind "constitutionality." Besides, is it really possible to be a non-activist judge in America?

Maybe Sotomayor will surprise us and do what Justice David Souter did after he was nominated by George H.W. Bush by ruling in ways ideologically opposite than the nominating president. Because this Souter/Sotomayor swap is a one-to-one liberal replacement, the court's ideological shift will not change. Moreover, since the Republican Party is slowly becoming the party of white congressional leaders, complaints against Sotomayor will be interpreted as either sexist or racist. As such, unless something strange occurs in the confirmation process, conservatives should not waste other people's money fighting too aggressively against the nomination. The time will come for rallying soon enough.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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