Over the past three years I’ve come to admire the Washington Post editorial page as the voice of the sane center-left, definitely not agreeing with it most of the time but still recognizing its sober tone, its attempt to be fairminded and constructive. That’s why today’s editorial on Sonia Sotomayor is so disappointing. It is, in a word, pitiful. Its first paragraph reads as follows: “At 3:15 P.M. Thursday, Aug. 6, the nation witnessed the confirmation of its first Hispanic justice to the Supreme Court. By a vote of 68 to 31, Sonia Maria Sotomayor, daughter of the Bronx and Puerto Rico, became the 111th person and only the third woman to join the highest court in the land.” This is nearly vomit-inducing. When can we, finally, please, please get beyond this identity politcics? The fact that she is Hispanic, and from the Bronx, and by heritage (not herself) from Puerto Rico, is utterly, completely irrelevant to ANYthing having to do with her qualifications for the court. The Post is playing ethnic identity politics in making that their lead.
Then there is this: “The moment will be remembered above all as a triumph for Justice Sotomayor, who refused to let financially humble beginnings define or restrict her in any way.” Funny: Did the Post emphasize the humble beginnings of Clarence Thomas, and celebrate them? Thomas grew up in far more impoverished surroundings than Sotomayor did.
Then the Post writes this of the 31 senators who voted against her: “These senators were within their rights to dislike the outcomes, but they were wrong to overlook the fact that in each of these cases Judge Sotomayor either followed settled law or appropriately exercised judgment that was well within the mainstream.” This is utterly laughable. Stuart Taylor showed conclusively that Sotomayor did not even come close to following settled law in the Ricci case. It wasn’t even close. Likewise, her opinion in Didden v. Port Chester, the eminent domain case, was nowhere near mainstream. Indeed, it was outrageous. Likewise with her opinion in Hayden v. Pataki, the case where she opined that currently incarcerated murderers and rapists have a right to vote. And, of course, the Post ignored its own judgment in an earlier editorial that Sotomayor’s testimony strained credulity, that in fact she dissembled. How does lying under oath qualify one for the Supreme Court?
Nevertheless, all that latter stuff is secondary to the main problem with the editorial: the aforementioned identity politics. It is disgusting racialism to play up such aspects of a person’s life. It is divisive, irrelevant, and wholly without regard to current conditions in which, if anything, ethnic identity-mongering is an advantage to promotion rather than a disadvantage, in an America that overwhelmingly rejects race or ethnicity as a determining factor in public life. As for Judge Sotomayor, Lindsey Graham was right in what he said early in the hearings, before he himself dismissed his own remark in a breathtaking example of a double standard. What he said was that if he himself had said and written some of the things Sotomayor has said and written not just once but repeatedly — but if he had said them just once — his career in public life would have been over. Actually, as I have noted, if any Hispanic of black REPUBLICAN had said those things, their public lives would have been over. And for good reason. But Sotomayor gets a pass because she is Latina, and a Latina of the right sort, meaning a liberal Democrat. That double standard is despicable. Yet, in effect, the Post embraces it. How intellectually incoherent. And how shallow.
The offer renews after one year at the regular price of $10.99 monthly.