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Sotomayor as Racist or Sexist? Pundits Should Chill.

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By Kathleen Parker
Sunday, May 31, 2009

First came the breaking-news e-mail alert: President Obama would appoint Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Within minutes, a dozen other e-mails tumbled through the hatch enumerating all the reasons Sotomayor was a terrible pick: affirmative action, identity politics, the Ricci case, double standards, racism, sexism. Boom shacka-lacka-lacka . . .

You could practically hear the clattering of bullet points ricocheting through the blogosphere.

Even without the help of all those foot soldiers who blast out late-night memos, any sentient being could have predicted the reaction. A brilliant white Protestant heterosexual man with one wife, two children and a record so clean he squeaks when he walks would have been viewed with skepticism if Obama had chosen him.

In partisan warfare, it's never too soon to open fire.

Let's give our trigger fingers a rest and clear some underbrush. Yes, of course, Sotomayor is a political pick aimed at consummating the Democratic Party's romance with what has been the fastest-growing demographic in the country. Unprecedented.

When Republicans appoint justices (seven of the nine currently serving), they're merely brilliant men who happen to be Italian American or African American -- without any political or identity considerations whatsoever.

Then again, perhaps Sotomayor is an experienced jurist who happens to be a woman (check) and a Latina (check), who also happens to have the qualities Obama prefers, plus a spiffy résumé: Princeton University Pyne Prize winner, Yale Law Journal editor, 17 years on the federal bench. Some call that a trifecta. Yet, you'd think from the onslaught that she runs a chain of abortion clinics.

Although her judicial record has raised some legitimate concerns, Sotomayor isn't so easily characterized as the radical liberal that some on the right have suggested. She has ruled favorably toward abortion protesters and unfavorably toward minority plaintiffs.

Nevertheless, most criticism has been aimed at perceived racist-sexist remarks from a 2001 diversity speech in which Sotomayor suggested that she, as a Latina, could be more qualified than a white guy. Pause: Don't most women think they're more qualified than most men when it comes to making wise decisions? Kidding, kidding.

What she said: "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." Sotomayor may be misguided, but she isn't necessarily a sexist-racist. I say this as a mother of white males (perfect in every way) and author of "Save the Males." Notwithstanding the preceding, I see her point.

Could a white man get away with saying something comparable about a Latina? Of course not. After Latinas have run the world for 2,000 years, they won't be able to say it ever again either.


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