Sotomayor's Nomination


Nick Jimenez, editorial page editor emeritus of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, has weighed in on Barack Obama's nominee for the United States Supreme Court.  As one might expect, Mr. Jimenez beats the drum for Ms. Sotomayor's confirmation.  Because she is almost certain to have a seat on the Court, his promotion of her amounts to so much spilled ink.  Nonetheless, when we examine his argument in her behalf, his "thought pattern" reveals much about himself and many of those, I think, who support her from the ideological left.

Mr. Jimenez first sounds the strident note of classism.  Her career, he exclaims, is "a feminine Horatio Alger story."  She "came [from] a background of poverty." So?  Hitler did as well!  Although his childhood was not financially impoverished, he almost starved to death in Vienna and barely survived as a painter.  Are we to conclude, Mr. Jimenez, that this fact in any way qualified the man to be Chancellor of Germany?  If not, then why is a background of poverty a qualification for the Supreme Court?  Whether Ms. Sotomayor was born rich or poor is irrelevant in evaluating her potential as a judge on any court. The fallacy of the moral superiority of the poor continues to be repeated with increasing urgency, but it remains a fallacy.  Any trained journalist should know better, but Mr. Jimenez refuses to let logic interfere with his politics.

He next emphasizes ethnicity.  He trumpets the fact that the nominee is "a minority woman" and will be "the first Hispanic to sit on the nation's highest court."  What does this fact have to do with her merit to be a Supreme Court justice?  Does he for one moment think that "affirmative action" (or "preferential treatment" according to the politically incorrect) did not play a decisive role in Mr. Obama's decision to give her the nod?  Is preference on the basis of race and ethnicity a noble vehicle by which to receive a job promotion, especially to the highest court in the land?  Mr. Jimenez apparently thinks so; otherwise, why does he wish to highlight the point of her ethnicity?  But, wait a moment, I don't remember him applauding Justice Scalia's or Justice Alito's nominations because these gentlemen are of Italian descent.  For this reason, his commentary smacks of plain old run-of-the-mill racism to me.  If I am wrong, show me, Mr. Jimenez.

My impression is reinforced by the fact that the editor emeritus actually attempts to defend Ms. Sotomayor's injudicious (and racist) remark, "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."  Everyone knows that a judge brings him- or herself to the interpretation of the law.  This is an indisputable fact that hardly deserves mention.  But what is new is that Ms. Sotomayor, Mr. Jimenez, and others want to argue that this is an excuse for "tribalizing" the administration of justice.  They contend that it is not enough to interpret the law as an "American" jurist.  No, a Latin-American goes about it differently from an African-American or an Anglo-American.  It is imperative, according to Mr. Jimenez, that one be from the right tribe!  This manner of thinking is insidious and does little more than play havoc with national unity.  It is a contemporary mode of race-baiting, on a par with Klan-speak.

Mr. Jimenez, who does not have a law degree and has never practiced law a day in his life, discounts the anonymous comments of lawyers concerning Ms. Sotomayor, published in The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. They have actually appeared before her, and they believe she is intemperate.  They call her a "terror on the bench" and "a bit of a bully."  These are serious allegations from people who are in the best position to judge her work.  But, without examining or citing us to a single court record, Mr. Jimenez "count[s] the anonymous comments as just so much grousing from the good ol' boys who can't stomach a woman, and a strong minority woman with a gavel in her hand at that, putting them through their paces."  On what basis does he draw such a harsh conclusion?  How does he know that these comments were not made by Hispanic lawyers?  It seems that the least Mr. Jimenez, or any other responsible commentator, would say about the matter is that such charges should be thoroughly investigated.  Yet he discounts them from the jump.  He is a man, you see, who does not wish to be confused by the facts.  One may define this tendency as "prejudice."  What else?

The editor intimates that Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is engaging in demagoguery when he states he does not like "bully judges."  Nor, might I add, do most other attorneys I have met.  If Mr. Jimenez knew anything about trying a lawsuit, I dare say that he would not care for such judges either.  But this is beside the point of his punditry, which attempts simply to portray anyone who complains of Sotomayor's conduct on the bench as a sniveling, whining "good ol' boy" whose problem is that he against female judges, especially minority ones.  Again, it's another unpardonably ignorant statement, made without a scintilla of support, in order to cover Ms. Sotomayor's alleged deficiencies.

Finally, Mr. Jimenez treats us all to anecdotal evidence about "the strong Hispanic woman," along with a quote from his own grandmother.  Give us a break, will you, Nick?  There are strong women throughout all races and ethnicities.  Yours is an entirely irrelevant point, having nothing whatsoever to do with whether Ms. Sotomayor belongs on the Supreme Court.

Newspapers are wondering why their readership is declining.  One reason for the decline is that they primarily print editorial material from the political left, and much of it is intellectually soft – one half step removed from sheer propaganda.  Perhaps Barack Obama will be ready with a bailout when the Caller-Times fail.  And why not?  It is only a matter of "empathy."  Right?

June 21, 2009