A columnist’s call for Republicans to grow up gets a response.
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* “My white soul was nourished as I visited and played at my grandmother’s house with my cousins and extended family.”
* “I became a white man by the way I love and the way I live my life.”
* “I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my white heritage.”
* “Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional white man in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion.”
What voice do I hear when I listen to a speech like this, Peggy? I hear the chilling voice of racism that whispered over the phone line to my mother. I hear the ugly, threatening voice that had reduced a frightened young black waitress to tears before firing both her and my father. I hear the townspeople who were too angry or scared to come and eat a simple pancake because to do so would acknowledge the skill and authority of a black woman. I hear a bunch of white teen-age kids earnestly explaining to me about racial superiority and why it was unacceptable to share a school bus seat with a lonely, uneasy black teenage girl.
Peggy, after you left the White House I spent a considerable amount of time working on the Reagan Supreme Court nominations along with our colleagues. Five of them — Rehnquist for Chief Justice, Scalia, Bork, Douglas Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy. I’m not a lawyer but somehow acquired a considerable interest and knowledge of the ins and outs of what is in reality a rather arcane process. Years afterward, I helped get a friend confirmed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as a Bush 43 nominee, writing a piece on it over in the Weekly Standard for Bill Kristol and later turning it into a small book about the thuggish nature the left had made of the whole process.
In the course of all this I was able to spend time connecting the dots from the racism my family had experienced to the role of the Supreme Court. Three cases specifically come to mind that raise red flags on a judge like Sotomayor who is seemingly so obsessed with race. The first, of course, would be the notorious Dred Scott v. Sandford case, in which a racist (and slave holding) Chief Justice Roger Taney used his “cultural experience” (as Sotomayor advocates) to, in the words of Judge Robert Bork, “read into the Constitution the legality of slavery forever.”
Have you ever read that decision, Peggy? It’s truly vile. Among the sentiments expressed by a man who was no less than Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court was the idea that blacks were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” This was exactly the thought being acted out by the white owner of that hotel when he fired my Dad and the black waitress. Maybe he knew about Dred Scott — he was an educated man — and maybe he didn’t. But he certainly had every reason to believe that his actions were socially acceptable. Dred Scott is one piece — one prominent piece — in a cultural mosaic that told him so. By using race as the basis for this particular Supreme Court decision, Taney’s presence on the Court helped launch the Civil War.
Next was Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision in which judicial activism was married to Sotomayor-style racial politics to deny the plainest of readings of the 14th Amendment. The result was the “separate but equal” logic — segregation — that was directly responsible for the all-black duplicate of my Southern school in 1965 — the legal stick that my friend Maxine had to live with most of her young life. Tellingly, Judge Sotomayor’s speech favorably mentions the third case, 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated American schools. What she does not mention is the reason Brown was necessary in the first place. Brown had to undo the very considerable damage done by Plessy, which was a direct result of activist Supreme Court justices — as Sotomayor aspires to be — forcing their racial worldview on America through the Supreme Court, the 14th Amendment be damned.
Without belaboring the point, although this didn’t affect us, there was also Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that sent over 100,000 Japanese-Americans off to internment camps without so much as a by-your-leave to the Fifth Amendment. Once again, race and the Supreme Court intersected. That decision, Peggy, was written by Justice Hugo Black. Justice Black, an FDR appointee, had been a proud member of the Ku Klux Klan who was so well thought of by the Klan he was given a “gold passport.”
One last observation.
When one takes a good long look at the arc of the Democratic Party from its founding by Thomas Jefferson in 1800 (historians generally credit, as you know, both Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as co-founders of the modern-day Democrats) up until today there is one very, very disturbing constant. The politics of race.
Beginning with slavery, moving on to segregation, lynching, racial quotas and what today is called “identity politics,” the one straight line through each and connecting each is racial politics. Clustered along that line are all manner of people with varying historical reputations. The clusters begin with slave-owners Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson — the latter appointing his friend, fellow slave-owner, decided racist and ex-Attorney General Roger Taney as Chief Justice. There are people like Woodrow Wilson (who segregated the federal government) and Josephus Daniels (FDR’s boss at the Wilson Navy Department). Then the FDR Supreme Court picks of segregationists Black and James Byrnes. Keep moving along the line and you find George Wallace and eventually Al Sharpton, and Obama allies like Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger. The skin color may change, but the core of the message does not.
What all of these people (and so many, many more) have in common is their political party — the Democrats. A party with an unbelievably vivid history of the most brutal racism imaginable and its obsession to one degree or another with race. An obsession they have, with devastating consequence, practiced from no less a place than the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Sotomayor, she who believes a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male” is only the latest in this line. Racism, as I also learned long ago, is not only blind to geography, it can be found festering among all races and both genders as well.
Do I feel I am an “idiot” as you say of those who believe Sotomayor should be vigorously opposed based on her racial sentiments? Sorry, Peggy, I just can’t agree. I am absolutely agog at those who speak of moderation on this subject, who speak of tone. Tone? Tone?!!!! This judge has expressed her views in such a way as to make it crystal clear she is the lineal descendant of those who have acted on the beliefs behind one of the worst traits in American life — racism. A trait that glistens from the breast of identity politics with a scarlet “R.” Racism has more than had its day on the Supreme Court, and from Dred Scott to Plessy —to Korematsu the results have been absolutely little short of traumatic for the country. It should never, ever see the light of day on a federal bench — or any judicial bench — again. Much less the bench that sits the Supreme Court of the United States.