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Sonia Sotomayor’s Troubling Background

A few more details on the background of Ms. Sotomayor from (the great) Discover The Networks:

Sonia Sotomayor’s Princeton University 1976 Yearbook page, which features a quote from the socialist Norman Thomas.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR

Born in June 1954 to Puerto Rican parents who resided in the Bronx, New York, Sonia Sotomayor earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1976. During her years at Princeton, she joined two campus organizations whose efforts were devoted chiefly to the celebration of nonwhite ethnic identities. She reminisces: “The Puerto Rican group on campus, Acción Puertorriqueña, and the Third World Center provided me with an anchor I needed to ground myself in that new and different world.”

Acción Puertorriqueña, which remains active to this day, lobbied against Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot initiative designed to deny social-welfare benefits to illegal aliens in California; sponsored a 2003 event focusing on the alleged “inequality” that suppressed Latinos’ “access to higher education … throughout our nation”; and currently supports increased rights and privileges for illegal immigrants.

The other group to which Sotomayor belonged, Princeton’s Third World Center, was established in 1971 to provide "a social, cultural and political environment that reflects the needs and concerns of students of color at the University”; to remedy the fact that “the University’s cultural and social organizations have largely been shaped by students from families nurtured in the Anglo-American and European traditions”; and to acknowledge that “it has not always been easy for students from different backgrounds to enter the mainstream of campus life.”

In her 1976 Princeton yearbook, Sotomayor selected, as her special quotation, the following statement of Norman Thomas, who ran for U.S. president six times on the Socialist Party ticket: "I am not a champion of lost causes, but of causes not yet won."

In 1980 Sotomayor became a Board of Directors member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (currently known as LatinoJustice PRLDF), a post she would hold for 12 years

Sotomayor was formerly a Board of Directors member of the Maternity Center Association (now called Childbirth Connection), an organization that “uses research, education and advocacy to improve maternity care for all women and their families.” Childbirth Connection generally views maternity care as the financial responsibility of taxpayer-funded programs dedicated to such objectives as: “establishing early standards for prenatal care and education; fostering the development of childbirth education in the United States; developing and distributing pioneering educational resources for prenatal, childbirth and parent education; and establishing the country’s first nurse-midwifery education program and first urban out-of-hospital birth center providing woman- and family-centered maternity care.”

In 1998 the Family Research Council named Sotomayor as the recipient of its Court Jester Award, mocking her decision to extend the application of the Americans With Disabilities Act to a woman who had cited her own inability to read as the “handicap” that caused her to fail the New York State bar exam several times

In 2001 Sotomayor gave a speech at UC Berkeley, during which she suggested, approvingly, that making the federal bench more “diverse”—in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual orientation—“will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging.” Refuting the notion that judges should not permit the foregoing personal traits to influence their legal decisions, 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.” “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she elaborated, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging…. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.” Questioning whether it is “possible in all, or even, in most, cases” for judges to be absolutely impartial, she pondered: “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.” She also expressed agreement with law professors who maintain that “to judge is an exercise of power” and that “there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy court case over which Sotomayor has presided was a 2004 lawsuit filed by Frank Ricci, a white New Haven, Connecticut firefighter who, the previous year, had scored very well on the test which his local fire department administered in order to determine who should be promoted to such positions as lieutenant and captain. But when it was revealed that black firefighters, on average, had performed quite poorly on that test, the city of New Haven, reasoning that the exam itself must have been racially biased, mandated that the test results be discarded and that no promotions be granted that year to anyone. In response, Ricci and 17 fellow firefighters (16 whites and 1 Hispanic) filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit — which was argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit — contending that they had been wrongfully denied promotions they deserved. That panel, which included Sotomayor, upheld New Haven’s decision to dismiss the test results.

Four years later, all 13 members (including Sotomayor) of the same Appeals Court presided over a retrial of the Ricci case. They likewise agreed, this time by a 7-6 margin, that the firefighters’ test was invalid. Six of the seven judges to rule that way were, like Sotomayor, Bill Clinton appointees.

On both a personal and professional level, Sotomayor has long placed a great emphasis on ethnic identity (and on the presumed victim status of nonwhite minorities). By her own telling, she has never fully shed her personal sense of being an outsider looking in on American society:

    * “The differences from the larger society and the problems I faced as a Latina woman didn’t disappear when I left Princeton. I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of any of the worlds I inhabit.”
    * “As accomplished as I have been in my professional settings, I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up and am always concerned that I have to work harder to succeed.”

A member of the National Council of La Raza, Sotomayor describes Latinos as one of America’s “economically deprived populations” which, like “all minority and women’s groups,” are filled with people “who don’t make it in our society at all.” Attributing those failures to inequities inherent in American life, she affirms her commitment to “serving the underprivileged of our society” by promoting affirmative action and other policies designed to help those who “face enormous challenges.” Moreover, she identifies “human rights” and “civil liberties” as topics that need to “permeate our societal discussions.”

In a 2008 case known as Doe v. Mukasey, Sotomayor ruled that FBI "national-security letters" asking electronic-communications service providers to furnish the Bureau with the records of a criminal or terrorist suspect, violated the First Amendment

Again, if you substitute ‘white’ for ‘Hispanic’ in any of the names of the groups that Ms. Sotomayor joined, or in many of her quotes, she would never pass muster for any position, let alone to be a justice on the Supreme Court.

But some racists are more equal than others.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, May 28th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Sonia Sotomayor’s Troubling Background”

  1. Colonel1961

    Everybody, on ‘three’. One. Two. Three. Bigot!

  2. Liberals Demise

    No surprise here ……
    SoSo is as racist as any in the BCC or say ……SCLC or even La Raza. We can toss in the Femine Nazis too!

    This BOOB will get the same attention as TARP 1 ….. disgusting!!

    As for my 2nd Amendment Right ……… come and get it!

  3. tizzodrizzod

    When doves cry:

    Sonia Sotomayor, Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, Nov. 4, 2002:

    *”At that time in my life, as I was meeting all these new and very different people, taking reading classes, and relearning writing skills, Princeton was an alien land for me. I felt isolated from all I had ever known, and very unsure about how I would survive.
    *“The differences from the larger society and the problems I faced as a Latina woman didn’t disappear when I left Princeton. I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of any of the worlds I inhabit.”

    Michelle Obama’s Senior Thesis:

    “My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘blackness’ than ever before,” the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. “I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.”

  4. heykev

    I believe she should be treated exactly as BHO treated Bush’s nominations.

    This racist should never be allowed to be a judge.

  5. proreason

    When a significant part of the country finds every aspect of their lives more important and worthy of loyalty than the country itself, then why have a country?

    We need to form a new country for people who feel loyal to what it stands for, and let the people who prefer to band with others with the same color skin, or gender, or sexual deviance form their own little countries from which they can pat themselves on the back, hate people who don’t look or act like them, and plunge into the dark ages they seem to prefer.

    What it boils down to for me is this. If you won’t cover my back when there’s trouble, then I won’t be coerced to cover yours.

  6. dlws8607

    Not only has this candidate made racist statements, she has made sexist statements. Her now infamous statement made the comparison that a “Latina woman” is better than a “white male.” In other words, female better than male. Perhaps more telling is her selection of words. Notice that she does not use the much scorned F-word (female) but does use the M-word (male). This is a common practice of sexist speakers, writers, and editors. This derives from the feminist doctrine that using the F-word implies that women are animals (which they are by the way) so no one should ever use female in connection to female humans. The funny thing is that the same people who advocate this doctrine frequently use the M-word when describing men without seeing any sexism in their use of words. This may seem like a small point, but it provides further evidence of her intrinsic sexism, which may be what she means by drawing on her experiences.

    • Anonymoose

      The other way they’ve gotten around that is by spelling “women” as “wymyn” and “girl” as “grrl.” You know, I think everyone feels to some degree like an outsider, just we all don’t take some aspect of ourselves and use it as both the explanation why we’re “different” and the reason to exist. She’s a “Latina,” so what? How is that essentially different from being Italian or Slavic or Polish? People like her never seem to realize that the first step in getting along with everyone in the sandbox is getting over your issues about yourself, and quit projecting them onto the people around you.

  7. Colonel1961

    And I hate the way the talking heads are pronouncing her name – almost sounds like ‘sodomizer’. Sorry, it does…

  8. I reference this post from Fisking the White House Blog on Sotomayor

  9. mickeyrivers

    Oh no! God forbid and minority who grew up poor will have a different side of view on certain laws. Oh I get it, you have to be old and white and have grown up rich….then it’s o.k.

    Give me a break!




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