Bench Memos

Down with the White, Male Judge

To those who thought the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has nothing to focus on anymore, we now have a nominee for the Supreme Court who publicly stated that she thinks Hispanic women render better judicial decisions than non-Hispanic, male judges.  Here is Judge Sotomayor’s statement:

Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases…. I am… not so sure that I agree with the statement. First… there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.

If a white, male judge made a similar statement claiming superiority over different ethnic, racial or other groups, would there be any doubt that his nomination would be withdrawn before his confirmation hearings began?  Add Judge Sotomayor’s troubling set of opinions in the New Haven firefighters’ case that is quite likely to be reversed by the current Supreme Court next month, and suddenly race, ethnic, and gender issues seem very much at play again. Make no mistake, however: this is not a potential example of “reverse discrimination.” At issue is the same, old, ugly racial discrimination and stereotypes as before — just in furtherance of different groups.

 – Todd Gaziano is a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.


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