Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Smart Power

A couple of recent articles have portrayed Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a very positive light. The articles rebut many of the suspicions that some commentators had regarding Sotomayor during her confirmation process.

Many of Sotomayor's critics questioned her intellect -- despite her tremendous record of accomplishment. Others contended that she lacked judicial temperament. Many Dissenting Justice articles responded to the criticism of Sotmayor (see comprehensive list of articles).

The attacks on Sotomayor had clear racial and gender dimensions. Prior to her confirmation, Sotomayor's powerful presence on the bench was viewed as a negative trait; in male judges, however, this is invariably seen as a positive trait. Despite Sotomayor's record of achievement, detractors questioned her intellect, while white judicial nominees rarely face such scrutiny.

Several critics, including Jeffrey Rosen, questioned whether Sotomayor could match conservative justices (see Dissenting Justice scathing critique of Rosen). According to recent Supreme Court commentary, however, Sotomayor has quickly disproved Rosen's fears regarding her value to the Court's liberal wing.

Today, some commentators rightfully view Sotomayor as a smart justice who engages in very sharp and passionate questioning from the bench. These recent articles provide a far more accurate account of Sotomayor than the picture that emerged during the confirmation process. They also demonstrate how race and class biases, rather than legitimate concerns, shaped much of the criticism surrounding Sotomayor during the confirmation process.


liberal dissent said...

One of the reasons Sotomayor's intellect was impugned was because of the coterie of law professors who were pushing for Kagan. A lot of the ivy league law professor crowd seems convinced that trial judges are far inferior to law professors when it comes to legal ability.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

LD: I absolutely agree with you! Great observation.

They still used a familiar script of prejudices to advocate for Kagan. Damn liberals.

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