Commentary Magazine


Contentions

He Got the Judge He Wanted

Peter Baker notes the irony: the president who ran as the post-racial candidate has selected a Supreme Court nominee who is anything but post-racial. He writes:

But four months later, identity politics is back with a vengeance. A president who these days refers to his background obliquely when he does at all chose a Supreme Court candidate who openly embraces hers. Critics took issue with her past statements and called her a “reverse racist.” And the capital once again has polarized along familiar lines.

The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor brought these issues to the fore again for several reasons. Mr. Obama’s selection process was geared from the beginning toward finding a female or minority candidate, or both. Only one of the nine vetted candidates was an Anglo male, and all four finalists he interviewed were women. One of Judge Sotomayor’s most prominent cases involved an affirmative-action claim. And her comment on her Latina background shaping her jurisprudence provided fodder for opponents.

It doesn’t take  long to figure out that, as Abigail Thernstrom (conservative scholar and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) observes, “He didn’t pick a post-racial candidate. . . She’s a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils.”

Baker reports that the administration is shocked, just shocked, to find there’s identity politics going on. Could they really dispute that “they fostered identity politics through a selection process focused on adding diversity to the court”? That suggests they either missed the impact and distastefulness of Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” speech (and her opinion in Ricci) or that they are determined to play the identity politics game, while denying they would do such a thing.

As Thernstrom points out, the pick tells us much about the president. He could have chosen a “diversity” pick who didn’t identify with the race-conscious civil rights lobby. And he could have picked someone who was renowned for legal scholarship. Instead, he made a conscious choice to pick Sotomayor, who is openly contemptuous of the idea of judicial impartiality and who revels in identity politics. We must conclude that despite Obama’s campaign rhetoric this nominee is compatible with his views on judging as an exercise in empathy and with his broader views on race. Otherwise he could have chosen someone else, right?



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.