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Supreme Court

Valerie Jarrett Cites 'Double Standard' Between Sotomayor, Alito

By DeNeen L. Brown and Richard Leiby
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett today defended President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, saying that critics are holding Judge Sonia Sotomayor to a "double standard."

Jarrett, speaking at the annual luncheon of the National Partnership for Women & Families, compared Sotomayor's controversial 2001 comment about the judgment of "a wise Latina woman" with comments made by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. about his Italian American background during his 2005 confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court justice in 100 years, Jarrett told the crowd of mostly women leaders gathered at the Washington Hilton: "You can imagine our surprise when people started saying maybe she wasn't qualified. 'What are you talking about, she isn't qualified?'"

"You add to that the incredible, rich personal story, where she grew up in the South Bronx," Jarrett said. "Her father died when she was young. Her mother worked so hard -- two jobs to get both she and her brother through school. He is a physician. She is an accomplished lawyer. The American Dream, doing exactly as you would expect her to do. ... Then she talks about how important that upbringing was, what that will help her bring to the bench -- just as I might add -- Justice Alito did during his confirmation. Now suddenly her background comes into question. So there is a double standard."

Sotomayor said during a speech at the University of California, Berkeley: "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."

Alito suggested in 2005 that his own family's Italian immigrant background would play a part in his judicial perspective, saying: "When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."

Jarrett, who is considered one of the most powerful women in the president's inner circle, assured the audience that Sotomayor will succeed. "I can tell you we really don't have anything to worry about. ... She will be far more prepared than anybody else, which is often the case with women," Jarrett said to applause. "She will make us all proud."

Jarrett said that Sotomayor's determination was obvious after a recent mishap left her with a broken ankle.

"Anybody who falls down at the airport, manages to get up, keep on going, swing by the hospital and then have 10 more meetings in the course of the day, says a little about her tenacity," Jarrett said.

Posted at 8:43 PM ET on Jun 15, 2009  | Category:  Supreme Court
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TruData: You said that Sotomayor "...asserted that any Latina would be superior to any white male."

THAT IS NOT WHAT SHE SAID!!!! Why don't all of you who seem to think she's so prejudiced take the time to read the ENTIRE transcript of her quote, not just the one that the MSM tools want you to hear about. She was ONLY talking about DISCRIMINATION CASES - JUST LIKE ALITO WAS!!!!!! She was NOT talking about all cases in general (even if she were, I still think she has a point given that there has never been a Latino on the Court). SO, what's the difference? You can't just pull a Cheney/Bush/Rove and say lies over and over again and hope that people will eventually believe you. Some of us actually get our information from primary sources (in this case, the full transcript of what she actually said) rather than from slogans and talking points from Limbaugh and hhis party.

Posted by: theprofessor | June 19, 2009 11:11 AM

This whole thing is getting tiresome. Why not keep quiet until proceedings begin. Let the woman answer her critics in public and on the record. Repeating the same old cliches like a parrott adds nothing to the discussion. Those of us who do support the nomination will simply let others talk to each other.


Posted by: 1969dale | June 19, 2009 9:34 AM


you state the case well. You must realize, of course, that the "Dittoheads" out there rarely let facts get in their way....

Posted by: pcpatterson | June 18, 2009 10:03 AM

Yes, Sotomayor does have more experience having her decisions overturned than any federal judge in the history of the nation. The most overturned by number and the highest percentage overturned.

So if being a poor judge is the qualifier you are looking for, Sotomayor is your girl!

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | June 18, 2009 9:31 AM

Why is the lady that holds the scales of justice blindfolded? So all can receive equal justice under the law. Not wise Latino justice. Sandra Day had it right when she said a justice should reach the same conclusion under the law no matter what their background.

Posted by: robert310 | June 18, 2009 9:28 AM

The comments on here are republicans, railing against Democrats, as they have at every turn.

Sotomayor is not a racist, but it is perfectly clear that the republican party is. Take the race baiting campaign run by the mcpalin duo of morons--the GOP has a digusting history of racism, and a quest for inequality.

Sotomayor is highly qualified and she will make a great Justice.

Posted by: dematheart | June 17, 2009 2:06 PM

The argument in the article about a double standard is not logical.

Everyone relies on his or her own background. That's all Alito said he did.

The difference with Sotomayor is that she asserted that any Latina would be superior to any white male.

That's racist. The real double standard here is that the Left blindly promotes the new racism.

Posted by: TruData | June 17, 2009 1:29 PM

So falling down in the airport has what to do with the issue. I am crippled and have worked for 30 years - I guess that makes me even more qualified because of my tenacity. Let's assume there is a double standard. What does that mean for an individuals qualifications? Let's put people in place based on merit not race or background. Of course if that is not the case where do I apply for the handicapped Justice slot.

Posted by: OhYea1 | June 17, 2009 12:58 PM

In support of Sotomayor:

I am very pleased with this nomination. It is about time that we have a court that represents and empathizes with the American public as a whole. This does not mean that they ignore the rule of law. I do believe that those who serve our country in the name of justice are shaped by their life experiences. This is an attribute that must be considered when honoring someone with this appointment.

Sotomayor certainly has those qualities and the country will be well served by her appointment. It is about time that we see more justices appointed that empathize more with the public and less with big business.

Posted by: dvdpiano | June 17, 2009 10:54 AM

It amazes me often the Bork controversy shows its ugly head whenever the senate has to choose a federal judge. First take a good look at and listen to Robert Bork when he speaks. He makes Antonin Scalia look like a flaming liberal justice.

He is very much an extremist with radical views. His candidacy was blocked by moderate republicans as well as the democrats. Plus Ronald Reagen had an excellent rapport with the Democrats on the Hill. So it is time the Republicans get over the "Bork Issue."

It is time that the public quit listening to Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh for their talking points. The majority of the country does not support Rush. Even if he has 25 million followers that is less than 10% of the voting public. A far greater number view him as a blowhard with nothing positive to say.

Posted by: dvdpiano | June 17, 2009 10:47 AM

Oh, COME NOW, Ms. JARRETT = Are you et al afraid your nominee to the High Court will "get BORKED" as was a former Reagan Administration nominee? Maybe she will, if there is anything to hide! Such as non-compliance AND deliberate distortions of the "Civil Rights Law [1964]" for the past three+ decades! NOW THAT(!) WOULD BE A STORY for "The Post" to investigate! START with Theodore H. Whyte's book titled "America In Search of Itself\" - and most especially that section on 'affirmative action'! It'll open your eyes then set your scampering to the tall grass.

Posted by: gogosian2001 | June 17, 2009 10:22 AM

Aliton didn't say it would make him a better judge, Sotomayor didn't say it would make her a better judge. They both said it would give them a different perspective on cases than if they had not had those experiences.

Posted by: gwh2phjames | June 17, 2009 9:22 AM

Justice Alito referred his Italian immigrant background as giving him a particular perspective when cases involving discrimination come before him. Judge Sotomayor referred to her experience as a Latina. Italian is an ethnic background. Latina is an ethnic background. German is an ethnic background. Growing up in Appalachia would certainly give someone a different perspective about Appalachia than someone growing up in NYC or the Great Plains.

I don't see it as an issue for her confirmation. Let's get on with it and stop all the posturing.

Posted by: gwh2phjames | June 17, 2009 9:19 AM

I think it is disingenuous of Ms. Jarrett to compare Alito and Sotomayor. While they both made reference to their respective backgrounds informing their decisions, Justice Alito never said that he thought it would make him a better judge than anyone else, much less a specific ethnic group. What if he had said it would make him a better judge than a black person, because while they had a steep hill to climb, they weren't the children of immigrants, so they just wouldn't have had the experiences to be as good of a judge as he would be? It would offend anyone in the country who wasn't completely ignorant. Ms. Sotomayor's comment is so blatantly racist, if she were white, she would have been burned at the stake by now.

Ms. Sotomayor's supporters say it was a poor choice of words, that she was just demonstrating a little racial pride. Let me tell you, racial pride is a dangerous thing. Racial pride has no place on the Supreme Court. Justice is supposed to be blind, everyone is equal before the law. If she truly believes that, and truly did choose her words poorly, then she should be confirmed. However, if their is any doubt, she should be sent packing.

Posted by: mathewcarson1975 | June 16, 2009 4:12 PM

Good grief! Sotomayor will be confirmed, so lets drop the posturing and political theater, and just get on with it.

As for the firefighter case, people who don't understand the role of the Circuit Courts of Appeals ought to hold their fire until they find out what they are talking about. Sotomayor didn't decide to dump the promotion test when all the black candidates failed it... that was done by local authorities TRYING to comply with the law... I think they took the wrong course to try to comply, but that wasn't the question before the District Court, much less the one before the Court of Appeals... the question was whether the officials behaved REASONABLY in their efforts to comply with the law, and to overturn their decision required a stronger showing that the action was UNreasonable than the evidence that the disappointed firefighters' lawyers presented.

If Sotomayor had been MORE eager to overrule local government decisions, the critics would be howling that she is an "unelected judicial activist, subverting democracy" at the tops of their voices.

Posted by: Observer44 | June 16, 2009 1:48 PM

First of all, Sotomayor has said repeatedly - on the record - that she favors sticking to the constitution and to settled law, as is our judicial tradition. Her past decisions prove this is the case. So all you white men out there, give up your Fox News talking points blather about the possibility of her "legislating from the bench." Why don't you take the time to research the thousands of cases she's been involved with? I think you would find NO evidence of either "legislating from the bench" or of discrimination. Besides, this whole paranoia about judges legislating from the bench is such crap. Anyone who has studied the constitution and the judiciary knows that MANY parts of the constitution are vaguely worded, and so naturally different ideological perspectives will come up with differing interpretations. Conservatives never have a problem when judicial activism favors them, such as in creating more police and war powers, watering down and essentially throwing out environmental laws passed by Congress, etc. etc.

Second of all, why don't all of you who seem to think she's so prejudiced take the time to read the ENTIRE transcript of her quote, not just the one that the MSM tools want you to hear about. She was ONLY talking about DISCRIMINATION CASES - JUST LIKE ALITO WAS!!!!!! She was NOT talking about all cases in general (even if she were, I still think she has a point given that there has never been a Latino on the Court). SO, what's the difference?

Posted by: theprofessor | June 16, 2009 12:12 PM

What she did to those firefighters that studied hard and passed the same tests the other firefighters didn't. It is just that simple and I couldn't imagine any judge would do the same if only blacks or Orientals, etc., had been the only race (what place does race has to do with firefighting anyway?) who studied hard and passed the same tests as white firefighters? This is reverse discrimination approved by Judge Sotomeyer. Simply, she used her race to deny others of a different race. How will she conduct herself supposedly as an independent Justice for life?

Posted by: leasador | June 16, 2009 11:05 AM

Sotomayor is certainly qualified for the Court, but it is intellectually dishonest to compare the two comments. Sotomayor asserts that a wise Latina woman would "more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male ..." Alito merely says that he takes his background into account when he gets a case about discrimination. The two comments are not comparable and taken together in no way support the contention of a double standard.

Posted by: skipper888 | June 16, 2009 10:10 AM

Judge Stotmayor is a Latina. She made a statement of fact. A Latin American woman will bring her experience to her job. She could have added other qualities like understanding and her knowledge of the Law. Men and Women compliment each other, they bring different perspectives; so there is nothing racist or feminist in her statement. Stupid people are stupid people and will make stupid remarks. Pity them, but do not lose precious time and energy on them, they will not change, and will only feed on the attention they grab.

Posted by: hyalum | June 16, 2009 10:09 AM

The basic question is ... will Obama's nominee be put through the same meat grinder Alito was? Of course she won't because the liberals will play (actually are prepping to play it now) the race card to protect her.

"I can tell you we really don't have anything to worry about. ... She will be far more prepared than anybody else, which is often the case with women," Jarrett said to applause. "She will make us all proud." - "Make us proud"? - Ms. Jarrett were you speaking to and for women and not for Americans?

Posted by: pielusztcontractor | June 16, 2009 9:34 AM

why not disclose how the ultra left wing Bronx/Westchester judiciary really works

illegal political contributions from local lawyers to the judges they argue before (illegal in NYS and all you have to do is cross reference the judges and lawyers and the NYS Board of Elections website which tracks the contributions by name) - check out Judge Jamieson for openers

then how do they really lay on the heavy action of affirmative action with their friends from the black and hispanic and womens legal associations ? .... how ?
partly like in the old days - illegal money, nods and winks for friendly lawyers, especially if they have "paid in" to the payola system .... unconstitutional restraining orders against white people forbidding white defendants from filing motions (Judge La Tia Martin)

triple and quadruple charging litigants for court transcripts, and forcing them to pay when the judge orders them even though they are by law free then

and if you try to question them, they have friends in the appeals courts who will be sure to screw up your case there

nothing against lawyers or judges here (except their own conduct) .... just that the so-called "minority" ones, i.e. blacks, hispanics, and women - they are waging a true war of anti-white anti-male discrimination

do the white lawyers and judges and male ones do anything like that ? not that I have ever heard of

they're all in favor of affirmative action all right - with them that's just the beginning, they make a war of it, based on race and sex, and what they do is pretty ugly, especially since it tends to be wrapped up with good old fashioned corruption - the Westcheter Guardian did a huge front page story on judicial corruption

no judge who backs affirmative action should be allowed onto the Supreme Court

it is just another very ugly flavor of discrimination

the funny thing is they will even give a big speech on civil rights and then basically go out and conduct themselves like Klu Klux Klan judges circa 1960, only targeting white males

Posted by: snorfy | June 16, 2009 3:21 AM

What does it mean to limit the justices to interpreting the Constitution? It means that justices find within the Constitution that are fundamental to it being a binding contract on all Americans, otherwise called "legislating" from the bench. These two actions are one and the same. That's why we have bills that hundreds of pages long: to make extremely clear (nauseatingly so) about the intentions of passing the law (and maybe putting in some pork too. Let's not get too idealistic).

Posted by: UiMaine | June 15, 2009 11:33 PM

Great, now we have a sexist defending a racist.

Posted by: prairiedog | June 15, 2009 11:25 PM

Supreme Court Justices, by definition, should not legislate a liberal agenda from the bench. They are supposed to interpret the constitution. PEROID.

Quit looking for a free ride affirmative action freaks. Study harder.

Posted by: genbarlow | June 15, 2009 10:05 PM

Let me put it in a way that even you can understand:

George Bush has as much experience at being president as anyone, but that doesn't mean we'd put him back in the job.

*NOW* do you get it?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 15, 2009 9:06 PM

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