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The Meaning of Justice Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor's ascension is that only-in-America story that should fortify everyone's believe in this nation's willingness to grant the American Dream (however defined) to anyone willing to work hard for it. But as we celebrate the achievements of "a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx," we should remember that Sotomayor's is not a singular success. There are millions of stories like hers up and down the nation's socio-economic ladder. They just aren't nearly as public, in as rarified air.

In the East Room of the White House yesterday, President Obama revelled in the larger meaning of Sotomayor's confirmation. "[T]his moment is not just about her," he said. "It's about every child who will grow up thinking to him or herself, if Sonia Sotomayor can make it, then maybe I can, too." He went on to say, "It's about everyone in this nation facing challenges and struggles in their lives, who hear Justice Sotomayor's story and thinks to themselves, if she could overcome so much and go so far, then why can't I?"

Sotomayor and so many others have been able to overcome because of three essential ingredients. First, and Obama mentioned this, there were adults -- a parent or guardian and other mentors -- who believed in them and pushed them to do their best. Second, the justice and others had an internal drive that allowed them to conceive of their dreams. And third, they had the talent and determination to achieve them.

"I am most grateful to this country," Sotomayor said. "I stand here today knowing that my confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court would never have been possible without the opportunities presented to me by this nation." Opportunities that would have gone unpursued if she didn't have those three key ingredients.

By Jonathan Capehart  | August 13, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Gee Capehart what a wonderful fantasy life you have. You are correct in that both Sotomayor and Obama have achieved immense success. Where you and other libs are wrong is that this 'success' was NOT earned by their talents and successes but by the ethnicity. Obama is the poster child for affirmative action, if ever there were one. A conflicted child, who rejected his mother's ethnicity and by all standards was a average community organizer, below average legislator and we could only guess, a mediocre student, since none of his records have ever been released. Based on his qualifications and previous history every debate champ is now qualified to be president. In sotomayor's case she had a lackluster albeit long career on the bench and got as many cases wrong as she did right. Her ascension to the Court was not about rewarding a jurist with impeccable credentials who has a keen and FAIR understanding of the constitution but rather an ideological appointee. Sotomayor says, "I stand here today knowing that my confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court would never have been possible without the opportunities presented to me by this nation." what she left out of that statement is "..unless i happened to be white in which case a less qualified person would get this job". What this past election and her appointment demonstrates clearly is that in the US ethnicity trumps qualifications and our country will be the worst for it, as is evidenced but the performance to date of Obama, as he plunges this country in to an unsustainable debt.

Posted by: foxwhite1 | August 13, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

All Americans should be proud they have a new Supreme Court Justice who will exercise her zeal for even-handed justice, particularly against white males who have done nothing wrong.

Posted by: hyood | August 13, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

foxwhite1,
I am really tired of all of you poor white boys that are sooo discriminated upon, crying all day long how hard and unfair your lives are.
In a world where most important positions and most of the power is in the hands of white males, crying discrimination is a supreme act of hypocrisy.
Please, go away. Nobody with an iota of brains and sense of justice buys.

Posted by: irene7 | August 13, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Praise Jesus that no white person has ever benefitted from the color of his/her skin or daddy's name; and how rude of over-indulged persons of color not to really appreciate the handouts they're given. If you keep being uppity, we'll have to send the Cambridge police to remind you of your true station in life.

Posted by: matthewjblack | August 13, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Concerning the comments of Foxwhite1 ...

Don't worry Capehart. 20 or 30 years ago such comments would have given rise to venom from me. Now I only ask Foxwhite1, if their acheivements are only the result of ethnicity, please tell us why you haven't ascended higher, hum-mmm?

Posted by: derekrobbins | August 13, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I think we're being a little disingenuous here. so are we saying that being Puerto Rican from the Bronx needs to be "overcome" and is some sort of handicap? Isn't that point of view handicapping? Imagine walking into a school in the Bronx and telling the children: "you have to overcome the fact that you are Puerto Rican and live in the Bronx in order to be successful because right now, your heritage and residence are handicaps to you." How could that possibly be motivating to kids?

Posted by: adifferentpointofview | August 13, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Foxwhite1 complains that this last election was not about achievment but ethnicity. let's see, an admitedly C- student leaves office to be replaced by a man who didn't have the nerve to tell daddy that he doesn't like the Naval life and goes through with it, who came 895th out of 900 in school, a pilot whose lack of understanding and expertise crashed 5 different planes, the last of which cost him his freedom and hence propelled him to his heroic status along with a woman who studied journlism, took 6 years to get an undergraduate degree and still after graduating begins a paragraph with an "And also..." Yeah, I see where we have gone wrong.

Posted by: hirutm | August 13, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe some people are still making ignorant and prejudicial comments!! For the past 17 years Judge Sotomayor has shown us that she can aptly follow the law faithfully, thus proving she is well qualified. But it appears that some of you rather believe all of the negative, twisted remarks made by her opponents. I would think that you would want to add fresh perspectives and more insightfulness (wisdom) to the U.S. Supreme Court. Besides, there is an obvious need for fairness, equality, and diversity to level the playing field after centuries of white male dominance. And another thing, if you possessed the quality of empathy you would fully understand and feel what it is like to grow up under extremely difficult circumstances.

Posted by: quintanilla50 | August 13, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Nice going Capehart! That Freudian slip on the Morning Joe really showed where your loyalties lie. (No that wasn't a pun ;-)

Posted by: Medbob | August 14, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor's ascension is that only-in-America story...."

"Only-in-America"... huh.

Back in 2007 President Sarkozy named the Muslim/North African lawyer, Rachida Dati, as French justice minister. She was the first person of North African origin to hold a top government post in Paris.

Posted by: darling_ailie | August 15, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

A poor girl from the Bronx makes it. That is positively thrilling. No matter what the ethnic background, being poor in America can be a feeling that you are nothing compared to the people written about in the newspapers like the NYTimes, The Washington Post, etc. That is why this story is so great and it is an example of affirmative action at work. Without it Justice Sotomayor would not have made it so far. Because what also stands out is that it is best to be graduated from one of the major schools to go so far in this country. And those of you with negative thoughts are either people of bias or just plain jealous. Good show Justice Sotomayor, we wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor. Your history shows that you will be a success on the U. S. Supreme Court also.

Posted by: WhatAWonderfulWorld | August 15, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

A poor girl from the Bronx makes it. That is positively thrilling. No matter what the ethnic background, being poor in America can be a feeling that you are nothing compared to the people written about in the newspapers like the NYTimes, The Washington Post, etc. That is why this story is so great and it is an example of affirmative action at work. Without it Justice Sotomayor would not have made it so far. Because what also stands out is that it is best to be graduated from one of the major schools to go so far in this country. And those of you with negative thoughts are either people of bias or just plain jealous. Good show Justice Sotomayor, we wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor. Your history shows that you will be a success on the U. S. Supreme Court also.

Posted by: WhatAWonderfulWorld | August 15, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

It's about time we allow minorities on the Supreme Court! Oh wait, I have just been informed that we already have a woman on the Supreme Court. One moment, I have now been told that we already have an African American on the Supreme Court as well! The way Obama hails this, you would think she is the first minority to be on the Supreme Court. I wonder what Ruth and Clarence think?

Posted by: Sickandtired67 | August 18, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

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