by Juanita Bratcher
It is appalling that President Barack Obamaâ€™s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, is being subjected to unwarranted attacks by a bunch of bullies labeling her a â€œracistâ€ and â€œbigot.â€ And many of these amplified, strident and incendiary voicesÂ are coming from people on the sidelines – not from elected officials who will ultimately make the decision to confirm or not to confirm her – but by some who themselves are looked upon byÂ others as racists.
Shortly after U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his retirement, it was obvious that the battle lines wouldÂ soon be drawnÂ for verbal combat over his successor. And no matter whom the nominee,Â there wasÂ bound to be a shootout of words betweenÂ variousÂ factions – pro or con, butÂ certainly notÂ expected to accelerate to the ugly level of name calling it has now come to be.Â President Obama wasted no time in naming Souterâ€™s replacement. That was the beginning of a vicious war of words aboutÂ his nominee on blog sites across the Internet, talk radio and TV.
Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with constructive, valid criticism, butÂ in this case, some have gone beyond the pale. CriticismÂ shouldÂ focus onÂ Sotomayorâ€™s 17-year record on the bench – her judicial career overall – judicialÂ decisions, opinion papers, character, and qualifications. It should never involve name calling, disrespectÂ and bullying.
A lot of the rhetoric is much ado about nothing, just plain political spin talk -Â characterÂ bashing, distorting her words, using selective quotes whileÂ omitting some of the content, orÂ not giving the full quote that was made.
Then again, perhapsÂ itâ€™s notÂ just about her judicial opinionsÂ or persona. Maybe itâ€™s an issue of racism, that she is not entitled to this post because of her ethnicity. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and the third woman, coming behind Sandra Day Oâ€™Connor, who announced her retirement in July 2005 and was replaced by U.S. Justice Samuel Alito on January 31, 2006; and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Ginsburg replaced U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White. She was confirmed by a 96-3 vote.
Some people just canâ€™t swallow change so easily.
When President Lyndon Johnson nominated Justice Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1967, he was the first Black to be nominated for the post. The nomination didnâ€™t sit too well withÂ several southern senators on the Judiciary Committee. His appointment was met with strong opposition from them, but he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a 69-11 vote and was seated on Oct. 2, 1967. Once in an interview, Marshall saidÂ he would serve on the court until he was 110 years old. He died at the age of 84.
Sandra Day Oâ€™Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the 102nd person to sit on that august body, appointmentÂ infuriated conservatives because of her support for the Equal Rights Amendment. However, President Ronald Reagan, inÂ nominating her for the Court, said he saw a sense of fairness in Oâ€™Connor.Â In the end,Â Oâ€™Connor was confirmedÂ by a vote of 99-0.
In her 17 years on the bench, Sotomayor has made many decisions and opinions. These are the things she should be judged by.
When President Barack Obama won the presidency, he vowed that change would be coming to America. And indeed it has in a short period of time. There are some who cannot accept change, and change to them can be a bit hard to swallow. Diversity on the court is ideal, certainly a far stretch from its status of many decades ago.
During President Obamaâ€™s weekly radio and Internet address Saturday (May 30, 2009), heÂ said of Sotomayor: Â â€I am certain that she is the right choice.â€
Sotomayorâ€™s confirmation should be decided on her merit, and not a speech she deliveredÂ in Berkeley, California, in October 2001, where she reportedly stated that, â€œIÂ 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 hasnâ€™t livedÂ that life.â€
The White House said Sotomayor admitted that sheÂ made a poor choice of words. But even that wonâ€™t stop the bullies from attacking; theyâ€™ll find something else to whine about.