The Corner

Identity Politics at the Court

Jason Zengerle seems to think that in saying Sotomayor probably has an IQ above 100, I am denying that she’s a hack. It doesn’t follow. He seems to think that I should view being graduated summa from Princeton during the last few decades as proof positive that someone is really smart. No sale. (Most of my e-mail critics seem to agree! At least as applied to me.) And he also claims that he is “always reluctant to say someone’s a racist.” Well, if he says so.

Matthew Yglesias, meanwhile, insinuates that I am, guess what, a racist, for failing to see that Sotomayor is just as qualified as Alito. I’m not sure whether Yglesias really believes this idiocy or is just using it as a political weapon, or which is the more charitable assumption to make. But if Alito had Republican colleagues who told reporters that they weren’t sure he was smart enough for the Supreme Court, I missed it.

Ed Kilgore gets in on the act too, writing that conservatives are “casting around so widely for reasons to oppose the first Latina Supreme Court nominee.” I hope that on second thought he picks a different formulation.

I don’t, for the record, think that it is worth complaining all that much either that a lot of people like seeing a fellow member of group X on the Court or that politicians will pick nominees in part to woo group X. Between 1971 and 2005, conservatives didn’t get anyone on the Supreme Court without playing precisely that kind of identity politics. Leaping from opposition to (or skepticism about) the nominee to accusations of anti-X bias, on the other hand, is poisonous, as well as tedious.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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