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Female Columnists on the Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings

By July 20, 2009

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To paraphrase soon-to-be-confirmed Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's now-famous "wise Latina" comment:
I would hope that a wise syndicated columnist woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [regarding the significant moments of the Sotomayor hearings] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life [of being occasionally slammed by readers complaining of reverse gender bias.]
That's me speaking about what I expected from my favorite female columnists as they deconstructed Sotomayor's grilling before the Senate Judiciary Committee in their respective commentaries last week. And I was not disappointed:
  • Kathleen Parker: "Deny as we might, the whole package of an individual being scrutinized for any position -- from cashier to Supreme Court justice -- includes appearance, personality and likability as well as qualifications, character and intelligence. It's our nature. Which explains in part why the same Republican men who can't quite bring themselves to accept Sotomayor still swoon over their party's last vice presidential nominee. Extrapolate at your own whim -- and risk."
  • Susan Estrich: "Sotomayor would not be sitting where she is in any other country. Her success makes me proud to be an American, proud that we are the country where a hard-working woman can raise her daughter to be a justice, and then sit behind her to share in the joy of that accomplishment. Her success makes me proud to be part of the generation that put our heads down, pushed through those doors and then, as the judge has done, turned to offer our hands to those who came after us."
  • Ellen Goodman: "I am...charmed to see conservatives decrying gender differences as un-American since they long used differences to justify women's second-class status. It was women who fought the idea that men and women were intrinsically different and therefore unequal. But by the time Sotomayor became a judge, more women felt free to 'wonder': Did we have to fit the (male) norm to be equal, or could we change it?"
  • Maureen Dowd: " A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not know that a gaggle of white Republican men afraid of extinction are out to trip her up. After all, these guys have never needed to speak inspirational words to others like them, as Sotomayor has done. They’ve had codes, handshakes and clubs to do that."
These earlier commentaries on the sexism and racism faced by Sotomayor are equally valuable:
  • Patricia J. Williams: "I’m three years older than Sotomayor, and when I started teaching in 1980, there were six women of color in the entire United States in legal academia—four African Americans, one Asian American, and one Latina. Our numbers in the judiciary were just as sparse. So Sotomayor is among that generation of often lonely but extraordinary and persistent pioneers. I’m confident she’ll be confirmed. At the same time, I am bracing myself for...commentary about her being “strident,” or “bullying,” when all examples of such seem to fall well within what any male judge would be embraced for as “decisive” rather than “opinionated. ”
  • Joanne Bamberger (PunditMom): "Sotomayor is being described as short-tempered and her judicial demeanor is being questioned for interrupting attorneys who argue before her....[B]ased on what I know, and from Mr. PunditMom’s personal experience in front of The Big Nine, being able to do that is practically a prerequisite to being a Supreme Court justice. And where have we heard this sort of criticism before?...Oh, right — that’s how Hillary Clinton was portrayed during her presidential bid! If we thought we’d left that behind after Hillary got out of the 2008 presidential race, we were mistaken."
  • Evil Slutopia: "We knew that many conservatives would fight back against anyone that President Obama nominated for the Supreme Court....so I thought I'd do a rundown of the top ten stupidest arguments against her, where they came from and what to do about it."


July 22, 2009 at 8:05 am
(1) Leena says:

This is my favorite from Evil Slutopia:

Karl Rove: “I’m not really certain how intellectually strong (Sotomayor) would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit.”

Rove again, responding to the statement “she is very smart”: “Not necessarily…I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools.”

The Counter – First, I admit that I’m puzzled about that last Karl Rove quote. Someone that he knows who went to Ivy League schools but isn’t necessarily actually smart? I just can’t think of *anyone* who fits that description, can you?


July 22, 2009 at 10:49 am
(2) womensissues says:

Ah,Leena, you provided the first good LOL of the day.

Yes, Evil Slutopia’s careful comment-by-comment study of stupid remarks made against Sotomayor (and the well-researched rebuttals and examples of how wrong they were) is an amazing bit of work. She deserves a great deal of credit for assembling links and statements that essentially prove how much of the criticism of Sotomayor was unfounded, bitter and misogynistic. I don’t have the kind of time to do this, so I’m glad she did.

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