Hispanic Judges and Who Said It First

 

Sotomayor Latina MagazineJustice Sonia Sotomayor’s comment that a “wise Latina woman” will make a better decision than a white male judge is well known and, inexplicably to me, didn’t get her branded a racist and disqualified from the bench.

However, now that Donald Trump is taking mega-heat from all sides for saying the judge in his case, who is of Mexican descent, might not be fair to him, another of Sotomayor’s comments, even more on point, needs to be looked at:

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Note well: She said, “…may and will make a difference in our judging.”

I did a word count of her confirmation hearing. The Senators preening for the cameras outspoke her 67 percent of the time, which is probably why none of those amateur cross-examiners had time to ask her, “Your heritage will affect your judging? How?”

Now comes Donald Trump, who worries that exactly what Sotomayor said will happen is happening to him. What I’m curious about is the cognitive dissonance of the American noosphere when processing Sotomayor’s and Trump’s shared contention. Let’s examine:

Sonia Sotomayor said a judge of Latino heritage will be affected in his judging by being Latino. The American response was to slather ourselves in the self-glory of multiculturalism and put her on the Supreme Court for life.

Donald Trump said what Sonia promised will happen is happening to him now, and America’s response is to say it’s impossible for such a thing to happen and brand him a racist and unfit to serve for even four years.

Same contention — different response.

For the purpose of this piece, I don’t care whether anyone agrees with Donald and Sonia, disagrees, or any other measured, well thought out or careless analysis in the middle. I want to know what causes a society to accept as true a maxim presented by one person who gets rewarded, yet accept the same maxim as impossible to be true when said by another, who gets figuratively tarred and feathered.

I see several possibilities. Perhaps we are so afraid to be mistaken for racist that we won’t disagree with a person of a certain heritage, even if that person herself says something racist. Perhaps we suffer media malpractice in the manner and frequency certain ideas get presented (or media omission of facts and ideas). Perhaps we have short memories. Perhaps we have divided ourselves into such rabid political teams that no one wants to admit their teammate said something wrong.

As for me, I find at least some blame in the harmful little chestnut so often stated that we are “a nation of immigrants.” I put some blame on the idea that assimilation and American culture are not important. I blame Sotomayor and others for putting any significance on bloodline ahead of Americanism.

We are not a “nation of immigrants.” A family legally loses immigrant status with the first generation that was born here. By the second generation born here, they’ve lost most if not all cultural traditions of wherever their ancestors came from.

I speak from experience. My grandparents were born in Italy. My father was born here. I was born in New Jersey and have nothing but American cultural traditions and loyalties. Am I supposed to call mine “an immigrant family?” I’ll damn you for suggesting it. My grandparents were immigrants. The 50 or so people who descended from them were all born and raised here. We are an American family.

It appears schizophrenic when a country at one time screams for diversity, insists upon diversity, legislates diversity, and applauds diversity, but then calls anyone racist who points out that another person is different from them. So what is it? Why is Trump in trouble for using the Sotomayor axiom that a judge’s lineage affects judging, while that same axiom helped her become a judge?

Published in General, Law
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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    goldwaterwoman: Anyone can file a civil suit against anyone else as long as they can find a lawyer to file it and a judge willing to hear it.

    So do you think that Trump U! was legit?  Seems like a way to separate desperate people from their votes..I mean money.

    • #31
  2. Brian Wyneken Member
    Brian Wyneken
    @BrianWyneken

    goldwaterwoman:Anyone who thinks judges are pure as the driven snow must not know any judges very well. They are very political and very human.

    Sotomayor presents as an example of your point (she views judging as principally an exercise of power), but this is not what we should seek in a judiciary. I agree that law school faculties (generally) and much of the political left views the judiciary as another political arm, and you may even be correct that this has become a prevailing perspective. Nonetheless, “[t]he courts must declare the sense of the law and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGEMENT, the consequence would be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body” (The Federalist No. 78).

    I’ve known many judges who have tried their best to adhere to this judicious role. The point is in the disposition and the effort. No one is pure, but some actually try to address their bias. In contrast, Sotomayor seems to revel in it. Mr. De Sono is right to call this out, and fair enough.

    • #32
  3. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    BrentB67:Great work and all that, but we’ve no room for reasoned arguments.

    All that matters is Trump is bad/racist/progressive/democrat, etc.

    A white gentleman highlighting ethnic, racial, or gender bias is forever a racist, sexist xenophobic, bigot, etc. There are bonus points to be made by other white men preening for cameras and casting judgement whether grounded in facts or otherwise.

    Dang, Brent. You got to it before I did.

    Great post, Tommy. For you guys who can’t get past the #nevertrump, I think Tommy’s agrument goes beyond DJT. Please see and understand his point.

    • #33
  4. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Tommy De Seno: For the purpose of this piece, I don’t care whether anyone agrees with Donald and Sonia, disagrees, or any other measured, well thought out or careless analysis in the middle. I want to know what causes a society to accept as true a maxim presented by one person who gets rewarded, yet accept the same maxim as impossible to be true when said by another, who gets figuratively tarred and feathered.

    Why hasn’t Trump’s lawyers filed the necessary paperwork (whatever those legal maneuverings are called) to have the judge removed?

    Trump had an alternative path, but he, as usual, had to go full bully.

    And with that, I’ve said all I will about this stupid story.  Not my party, not my candidate, so carry on.

    • #34
  5. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Frozen Chosen:

    goldwaterwoman: Anyone can file a civil suit against anyone else as long as they can find a lawyer to file it and a judge willing to hear it.

    So do you think that Trump U! was legit? Seems like a way to separate desperate people from their votes..I mean money.

    How does it differ from most major universities?

    • #35
  6. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    BrentB67:

    Frozen Chosen:

    goldwaterwoman: Anyone can file a civil suit against anyone else as long as they can find a lawyer to file it and a judge willing to hear it.

    So do you think that Trump U! was legit? Seems like a way to separate desperate people from their votes..I mean money.

    How does it differ from most major universities?

    Most college students are lazy – not desperate.

    • #36
  7. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    BrentB67:

    So do you think that Trump U! was legit? Seems like a way to separate desperate people from their votes..I mean money.

    How does it differ from most major universities?

    One difference – it’s been said the guy whose name is on it has deep pockets.

    • #37
  8. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Basil Fawlty:This is vile.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    (I just had to say this even  after reading all the comments.)

    • #38
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Tommy De Seno: It appears schizophrenic when a country at one time screams for diversity, insists upon diversity, legislates diversity, and applauds diversity, but then calls anyone racist who points out that another person is different from them. So what is it? Why is Trump in trouble for using the Sotomayor axiom that a judge’s lineage affects judging, while that same axiom helped her become a judge?

    I agree with this.

    I don’t often agree with Donald Trump, but it is beyond weird to see this issue arise given that I’ve been told throughout the last twenty-five years that we need “diversity” to ensure justice and objectivity.

    The public can’t have this both ways: claim that we have to have people of diverse backgrounds in government and management to ensure fairness and then claim that these people of diverse backgrounds will not look at cases without regard to those diverse backgrounds.

    I’ll accept it either way, but please pick one.

    If I accept the Left’s view, then Trump is right to worry and complain. It is funny to see the Left get twisted up in rhetorical knots this week.

    • #39
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Frozen Chosen: Most college students are lazy – not desperate.

    Lazy and disparate.

    • #40
  11. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    MarciN: The public can’t have this both ways: claim that we have to have people of diverse backgrounds in government and management to ensure fairness and then claim that these people of diverse backgrounds will not look at cases without regard to those diverse backgrounds.

    Diversity in human transaction relationships is wise and sensible to promote trust, particularly among those who might be at some power disadvantage. This applies in economic and political interactions. Bias toward any given heritage by the party with the power is not appropriate and this applies especially coming from a government entity. So ethnic diversity on the bench is for the people represented to have confidence and trust in impartiality, not to have a sense that a judge might reach a biased ruling based on his/her on heritage.

    • #41
  12. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Bob Thompson:

    MarciN: The public can’t have this both ways: claim that we have to have people of diverse backgrounds in government and management to ensure fairness and then claim that these people of diverse backgrounds will not look at cases without regard to those diverse backgrounds.

    Diversity in human transaction relationships is wise and sensible to promote trust, particularly among those who might be at some power disadvantage. This applies in economic and political interactions. Bias toward any given heritage by the party with the power is not appropriate and this applies especially coming from a government entity. So ethnic diversity on the bench is for the people represented to have confidence and trust in impartiality, not to have a sense that a judge might reach a biased ruling based on his/her on heritage.

    What then do you make of the claim that a wise Latina will make a better judgment than a white male?  Is that racist or not?

    • #42
  13. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Bob Thompson:

    MarciN: The public can’t have this both ways: claim that we have to have people of diverse backgrounds in government and management to ensure fairness and then claim that these people of diverse backgrounds will not look at cases without regard to those diverse backgrounds.

    Diversity in human transaction relationships is wise and sensible to promote trust, particularly among those who might be at some power disadvantage. This applies in economic and political interactions. Bias toward any given heritage by the party with the power is not appropriate and this applies especially coming from a government entity. So ethnic diversity on the bench is for the people represented to have confidence and trust in impartiality, not to have a sense that a judge might reach a biased ruling based on his/her on heritage.

    Authentic leftist gibberish.

    • #43
  14. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    This is moral equivalence.

    Person A: “My heritage affects how I judge. If you want to nominate me to the supreme court, understand that this is what I believe.”

    Person B: “That judge’s heritage means that he is out to get me. I demand that he be removed from this case.”

    Person A is stating her personal bias, looking into her own mind. Person B is deciding that he can read someone’s mind and detect bias, in the same way that social justice warriors claim that they can read minds and detect the stain of racism.

    (Moreover, the people on this site who excoriated person B also excoriated person A. So your criticism doesn’t apply to them. But that’s a minor issue.)

    I’d cite Buckley, women, and busses, but it all falls under the same heading: moral equivalence.

    • #44
  15. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob


    It appears schizophrenic when a country at one time screams for diversity, insists upon diversity, legislates diversity, and applauds diversity, but then calls anyone racist who points out that another person is different from them. So what is it? Why is Trump in trouble for using the Sotomayor axiom that a judge’s lineage affects judging, while that same axiom helped her become a judge?

    Because accusations of racism in a country like the USA, where racism is not an objectively real problem or issue, are made for only one reason: so that one group of people can obtain political power over another.

    • #45
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Tommy De Seno:

    What then do you make of the claim that a wise Latina will make a better judgment than a white male? Is that racist or not?

    Either stupid or racist or maybe both.

    • #46
  17. Martel Inactive
    Martel
    @Martel

    A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    • #47
  18. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    By the way, FWIW, I have never accused Trump of being racist. All I know is that his accusations are completely without merit, and that they lower the dignity of the presidency.

    • #48
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Obviously, there is some truth to the notion that a jury of one’s peers would be apt to be fairer than a jury of people very different from the defendant in ways significant to a particular case. This is an accepted fact of jurisprudence.

    Given that Donald Trump has been described as a “racist”–and I do not believe he is, and I don’t believe people from Central and South America are of a different race from me anyway, . . .–by the press, it could be assumed that he has offended many people of Mexican ancestry. If I were his lawyer, I’d want a change of venue from California anyway if the jury or judge were of Mexican heritage given the reality of this situation. You would have to have lived under a rock not to have heard that he is a “racist” in the past year.

    If he had been said to be anti-English people for the past year, and that would be conceivable if he were a candidate hailing from Black Lives Matter or La Raza, on the Left somewhere, I would be a little nervous if his judge were of English descent.

    What surprises me more than his remarks are people’s reactions to those remarks.

    • #49
  20. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Bob Thompson:So ethnic diversity on the bench is for the people represented to have confidence and trust in impartiality, not to have a sense that a judge might reach a biased ruling based on his/her on heritage.

    But impartiality in the judiciary overall is not the same thing as an individual judge “representing” a specific group. The concept of representation is, I’d argue, an extremely fuzzy idea that we need to look at critically.

    If you have a lawyer “represent” you, we assume the lawyer will advocate on your behalf. We work in an adversarial legal system, and we want the lawyers to be biased. But the judge can’t be. A lawyer can confidently “represent” an interest group, but a judge can’t. IIRC, the “race” group was a bar association. If the judge joined the group while he was an advocate (even as a prosecutor), then I’m not too worried. But if he remains an advocate as a judge, then we get too far afield.

    To address Tommy’s question – I’d say we don’t consciously accept Sotomayor’s bias as legitimate, but we don’t fight it openly, either. That’s because the “managers” of our national conversation (once the broadcast media, now probably social media like Facebook) are themselves biased … and would penalize us if we fought their dictates.

    McLuhan is being confirmed every single day.

    • #50
  21. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Bob Thompson:

    Tommy De Seno:

    What then do you make of the claim that a wise Latina will make a better judgment than a white male? Is that racist or not?

    Either stupid or racist or maybe both.

    I recall this wording as close to what Sotomayor was quoted as having said at some point prior to her appointment to the SCOTUS. The idea contained in the statement seems inherently racist. So, if this statement is something she believes, it should raise a question regarding racial bias. If she said it without believing it, that raises a different question.

    • #51
  22. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Martel:A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    Agree.

    Why do Mexican judges feel compelled to join associations for advancing ‘their interests’? What is different about their interests from the goal of even handed justice for all?

    • #52
  23. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    BrentB67:

    Martel:A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    Agree.

    Why do Mexican judges feel compelled to join associations for advancing ‘their interests’? What is different about their interests from the goal of even handed justice for all?

    It makes you wonder –  is the premise for the need for such groups based upon the assumption that white people will be unfair to them?  If not, what is the need of them?  Anyone know?

    • #53
  24. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Tommy De Seno:

    BrentB67:

    Martel:A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    Agree.

    Why do Mexican judges feel compelled to join associations for advancing ‘their interests’? What is different about their interests from the goal of even handed justice for all?

    It makes you wonder – is the premise for the need for such groups based upon the assumption that white people will be unfair to them? If not, what is the need of them? Anyone know?

    At the risk of sounding petty is there a White Anglo Saxon legal association?

    • #54
  25. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    BrentB67:

    Tommy De Seno:

    BrentB67:

    Martel:A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    Agree.

    Why do Mexican judges feel compelled to join associations for advancing ‘their interests’? What is different about their interests from the goal of even handed justice for all?

    It makes you wonder – is the premise for the need for such groups based upon the assumption that white people will be unfair to them? If not, what is the need of them? Anyone know?

    At the risk of sounding petty is there a White Anglo Saxon legal association?

    Congress.  That’s called congress.

    • #55
  26. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Tommy De Seno:

    BrentB67:

    Tommy De Seno:

    BrentB67:

    Martel:A quick way to say it:

    If it doesn’t matter whether or not a judge is Mexican (or Latino, black, etc.), then why does it matter so much that we have more Mexican judges?

    Agree.

    Why do Mexican judges feel compelled to join associations for advancing ‘their interests’? What is different about their interests from the goal of even handed justice for all?

    It makes you wonder – is the premise for the need for such groups based upon the assumption that white people will be unfair to them? If not, what is the need of them? Anyone know?

    At the risk of sounding petty is there a White Anglo Saxon legal association?

    Congress. That’s called congress.

    I am not sure this distinguished progressive mafia would agree, but I have no objection.

    • #56
  27. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    KC Mulville: But impartiality in the judiciary overall is not the same thing as an individual judge “representing” a specific group. The concept of representation is, I’d argue, an extremely fuzzy idea that we need to look at critically.

    Well, I guess I wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean representation in the sense of ethnic groups representing ethnic groups, I meant impartiality overall and when I used representation, I meant that in the sense of our government officials representing all the people impartially.

    • #57
  28. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    Frozen Chosen:

    goldwaterwoman: Anyone can file a civil suit against anyone else as long as they can find a lawyer to file it and a judge willing to hear it.

    So do you think that Trump U! was legit? Seems like a way to separate desperate people from their votes..I mean money.

    A lot of college students even at prestigious universities end up complaining about the value they get for the tuition they pay. Trump is just a more inviting target.

    • #58
  29. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    Great post, Tommy. Identity politics has gotten out of control. Most of us non-elites don’t get our panties in a bunch about racial issues. Those who do are either Democrats or wannabe elites. I just want blind justice.

    • #59
  30. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Superb argument. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of a litigation from you. Extremely well thought out and convincing.

    • #60
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