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Court Watch: Affirmative Action, Baby

By Garance Franke-Ruta
• Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog takes to TPM to argue that it's over. "Basically before it ever started, the fight over the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor is done. She is going to be confirmed by a relatively wide margin and without a substantial, mainstream assault on her credentials or suitability for the bench," he writes.

• Patrick J. Buchanan, writing in Human Events, suggests Republicans still have a lot to gain by politicizing the Sotomayor nomination, even if they can't keep her off the bench. "What are the grounds for rejecting Sonia Sotomayor? No one has brought forth the slightest evidence she has the intellectual candlepower to sit on the Roberts court," he writes in the article, "Miss Affirmative Action, 2009." "By her own admission, Sotomayor is an 'affirmative action baby.'... her academic career appears to have been a fraud from beginning to end, a testament to Ivy League corruption."

Later, he echoes a theme earlier put forward by Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, that white men ought to fear Sotomayor. "To salve their consciences for past societal sins, the Ivy League is deep into discrimination again, this time with white males as victims rather than as beneficiaries. One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest," Buchanan writes. "...For Sotomayor, the advancement of people of color over white males is justice."

• Cato Institute vice president Gene Healy earlier this week gave a libertarian assessment of Sotomayor in The Washington Examiner. His conclusions: "When it comes to checking government power, Sotomayor's record is pretty poor. Civil libertarians can't be happy with her pro-police orientation: The former prosecutor has backed law enforcement in more than two-thirds of criminal cases that she's heard."

"Her record on property rights is no more promising," he continues, later adding that there are hints "that Sotomayor won't be as pro-executive as recent GOP nominees" and that, on the plus side, "For all her faults, it's unlikely that Sonia Sotomayor will be a pushover for any wartime president. Constitutionalists and civil libertarians should take comfort in the fact that it could have been worse."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 12, 2009; 2:43 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Buchanan is an angry white man who can't stand the fact that minorities (women, black, hispanics, asians, etc.) actually are having a voice in this country. He hates the fact that Pres. Obama was elected and has never ever called him president.

I'm not saying that he is anywhere near what the killer at the Museum did but with all the changes in our country there are still a lot of people filled with hate.

Posted by: rlj611 | June 15, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

With politics, there's ALWAYS doubt.

Posted by: JakeD | June 14, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Surely I believe that questions should be asked about Sonia Sotomayor, but the constant harping at her background and education which is clearly stellar-- is troubling.
It would seem some are keen on picking every bit of 'flesh' from her bones. But undoubtedly she will be confirmed and deservedly serve with honor and diligence.

Posted by: Victoria5 | June 13, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I second fairfaxvoter. I think that Sotomayor's academic successes demonstrate the worth of affirmative action.

Years ago, I saw the answers, but not the questions, for an IQ test for second-graders -- a series of pictures, from which they had to select the correct answer. On a couple, children whose names were Hispanic or Native American perfomed markedly worse than the norm. In one, the correct answer was the American flag, but the minority children who erred almost all marked the Statue of Liberty.

Whatever the question was, it presumed familiarity with references that these children apparently did not grow up with, even when they would eventually be expected to navigate the dominant white culture to succeed.

It is reported that Judge Sotomayor, whose first language was Spanish, read children's books as she began her studies at Princeton to acquire a grasp of middle-class English. Obviously, she made up for her deficiences, and performed brilliantly at both Princeton and Yale.

Posted by: thmas | June 13, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Trust me, Princeton does not award the Moses Taylor Pyne Prize, the highest undergraduate honor, as part of some "conspiracy" to put forward minority students. Nor does some kind of loser get to edit the Yale Law Journal. And oh yes, there's that distinguished prosecutorial and judicial record, the latter more extensive than any nominee's since the early 1900s.

Judge Sotomayor, like Clarence Thomas, obviously benefited from an era of affirmative action programs that sought to "affirmatively" take "action" (thus the name) to include minorities and women who were qualified for elite institutions but had slightly lower test scores or grades, presumably due to the cumulative effects of disadvantages and discrimination that still remained--including in the construction of those tests. Given the goals of those programs, both obviously were correctly admitted to those schools because they did very well -- Sotomayor, of course, from the record, did way better academically than Thomas.

The difference is that Thomas seems to be bitter and angry that he got this helping hand, because he believes that it diminishes his achievements, even now that he has reached the pinnacle of the legal establishment. Sotomayor is much more matter of fact, recognizing the same truth, that she benefited from these admissions programs, but in the same breath pointing out that once she got in the door (and that's ALL that affirmative action ever does) she performed strongly and successfully on her own merits. It will be fascinating and helpful to have both voices on the bench.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | June 12, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Pat Buchanan is an dinosaur. Odious, noxious and hysterical, his screeds are a disgraceful relic of an era that will die with his generation.

What crap!! Where did he matriculate? What were his grades? Summa? Phi Beta Kappa? I think not.

Fire away you bilious right wing toads.

Posted by: mrmoogie | June 12, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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