George Graham

As Expected, Nasties Launch a Vicious Attack on Judge Sotomayor

Here they come, fangs bared, bleary eyes bloodshot, venom spewing from every pore. Conservative hacks like Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich… the bottom feeders of the American political swamp. This time it’s a 54-year-old Puerto Rican woman they’re after, and they will use every dirty trick in their playbook to try and block her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

sotomayorIn the “debate” that’s coming, you will hear that Justice Sonia Sotomayor (photo at right) is “racist” because, as an appeals court judge, she ruled against a group of New Haven, Conn. firefighters who didn’t get promoted after a test their bosses later decided was unfair. Several whites and two Hispanics scored well enough to be promoted – but no blacks. I haven’t seen the test but Justice Sotomayor has. And she decided that it was unfair to black candidates. Now, the conservative attack squad is saying that this Hispanic judge discriminated against Hispanics in favor of African-Americans. How likely is that? Until I learn otherwise, I am prepared to believe the test was rigged.

Someone also dug up a comment Justice Sotomayor made about the likely judicial benefits of being a Hispanic woman, and the uglies are using it to brand her as philosophically unfit for the Supreme Court. Here’s what 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.

It’s a free country and, as far as I am concerned, Justice Sotomayor can hope anything she likes. I don’t see anything in her record that indicates she would try to advance women’s rights, minority rights or any other liberal cause through her judicial rulings. My read on her quote is that, since knowledge and wisdom come from experience as well as books, she feels well prepared to understand the real-life implications of decisions the high court will be called upon to make.

Here’s another comment of hers that is coming under fire: “The Court of Appeals is where policy is made.” In their usual disregard for accuracy, conservative critics leave off the rest of that remark – the part where she added that she personally did not believe the courts should make policy. She was just stating a fact, a fact that she deplores but recognizes as the truth. But the nasties never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Twisting the truth to set a trap for fools (as Rudyard Kipling put it) is what they do best.

You will also hear flat-out lies, like Buchanan’s claim on MSNBC last night that Justice Sotomayor “is not all that intelligent.” We all know how bright Buchanan is, of course. After all, he was valedictorian at Gonzaga College High School, and all Justice Sotomayor did was graduate summa cum laude from Princeton and go on to edit the Yale Law Journal.

(I know, I know, Buchanan went on to Georgetown University, but that doesn’t make him the brightest bulb in the chandelier.)

Look, I don’t care that Justice Sotomayor is Puerto Rican and the first Hispanic ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t care that she’s a woman. That’s all just icing on the cake. If I ever have a case that comes before the Supreme Court (yes, I know that’s unlikely but if…) what I’ll be looking for is impartial, well-informed consideration by the justices. To me, that’s what “justice” is all about. And, in that regard, Sonia Sotomayor is eminently qualified.

So when the nasties rail and rant, I’ll simply turn off the television. And I advise you to do the same. The confirmation will soon be over, and the nasties will move on to some other prey.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for


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