Friday, June 5, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

Some of our Republican friends are quite upset by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's comment about a "wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences" being able, "more often than not to reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Of course, she has already indicated that this was a poor choice of words, a recanting of sorts. And our boy Newt has done has own recanting of sorts about his "racist" comment, too. But, as usual, I fail to grasp why this is such a big deal.

Before you get your bowels in an uproar, I am not saying women are better than men, or Latinos are better than Anglos. What I am saying is that Ms. Sotomayor merely stated what we all feel in our heart of hearts. We all believe that our life experiences, shaped by our cultural background and experiences, qualify us far more than any one else on the planet to make brilliant decisions and conclusions. Perception is reality, as McLuhan once said. Everyone views life through the lens of our lifetime. We don't see how someone how has not been shaped by the forces that shaped us could possibly reach the brilliant, fair and equitable decisions that we do. It is simply impossible. In this regard, the nominee is just another frail human being, albeit one with a little more power and public eye than most of us.

So should such a comment disqualify Ms. Sotomayor? Have we become so politically correct that such a human statement means that you are not qualified to become a Supreme Court Justice? Is it even wrong? Don't we want our Judges to bring to the table the fullness of their life experiences? Of course, we need to guard against someone who life experiences produce a prejudice, which I guess is the argument being made by the neo-conservatives here, but there is nothing in Sotomayor's record of rulings to indicate that.

There has been for many years a dangerous trend in politics to weed out anyone with flaws. Someone that falls short of an unattainable ideal. Flawed people often grow as a result of mistakes, life experiences, and failures. Perhaps they even become better people. As a result of this trend against the less than ideal, I fear we are in great danger of no longer producing giants. And make no mistake about it, there were once giants that guided this country. Today, they would be weeded out. FDR--crippled adulteror, Lincoln--odd looking manic depressive, Teddy Roosevelt--too earthy, too opinionated, Sam Austin--drunken failure, Washington and Jefferson--slaveholders for God's sake!

You can have your list of vanilla middle of the road candidates. As for me, let me have some flawed humans, like those above, that bring it all, good and bad to the table. Maybe we'll see a giant again.

41 comments:

Polycarp said...

I see plenty of flawed justices on the bench. Thomas is deeply flawed, as is Scalia. Alito is less flawed than Scalia, and Roberts slightly smarter than Alito, but I'd say they were all flawed.

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