Impartial justice takes a hit with Sotomayer

Rich Lowry:

It was a historic day when Pres. Barack Obama announced his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. No president had ever nominated a Hispanic woman. Nor had a recent president — or his nominee — expressed less genuine interest in the traditional craft of judging.

Impartiality has been supplanted by empathy. The old-fashioned virtue of objectivity — redolent of dusty law books and the unromantic task of parsing the law and facts — is giving way to an inherently politicized notion of judging based on feelings. Lady Justice is to slip her blindfold and let her decisions be influenced by her life experiences and personal predilections.

Obama and Sotomayor embrace this method of judging with gusto, even though it is deeply antithetical to justice properly understood. This is why Sotomayor is such a radical choice. Not only will she define the court’s left flank, she represents a judicial philosophy that is neither truly judicial nor a philosophy. The political outcome — and the personal biases that drive it — is paramount.


In a rambling 2001 speech, she disagreed with a colleague who thought judges should transcend their “personal sympathies and prejudices.” Sotomayor said, “I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases.” She argued that “the aspiration to impartiality is just that — it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.” In sum, she said, “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.”

That is a statement that should haunt her in her confirmation hearing. It is indefensible in any context. All you have to do is reverse the gender and ethnic characterization to prove the point. It is further proved by her holding against white firefighters in a civil rights case where minority candidates did not have passing scores.

While Democrat Senators probably don't care about her racist and sexist attitudes, the GOP should at least make them squirm defending this bias.


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