On air: Why are minority appointments still an issue?

Sonia SotomayorIf everything goes to plan, America will soon have it first Hispanic Supreme Court judge. President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, currently a US Appeals court judge, to take over from retiring Justice Souter.

Over three decades she has worked at nearly every level of the judicial system. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. But looking at the many blogs and opinion pieces commenting on her nomination, regardless of whether the view is positive or negative, the biggest focus is first that she’s Latina, second that she’s a woman.

The common negative view is that she’s a token appointment, chosen to tick a box, rather than because of her skills.

Has anyone just…maybe sat down and thought like I do? I dont want a white man, woman, Hispanic, black, Japanese, Korean, anything. Here’s what I want. I want a PERSON who makes an INFORMED decision based upon the two guiding principals of this country. God and the Constitution. You messed up again Obama.
Erik Little, Florida

From the side that is praising her nomination, the top line seems to be that it’s about time the Supreme Court looked more like the country it is supposed to judge.

Why are both her ethnic background and her gender the most important things? Is the media focussing too much on her background rather than her professional life? Shouldn’t we be past judging people on who they are rather than what they have done?

In your country are there examples of people from a minority holding a positions of power and just getting on with the job? Do they have to be twice as good as someone not from the minority? And if you are from a minority group, what would having someone from your background in a position of power and influence mean to you?

94 Responses to “On air: Why are minority appointments still an issue?”

  1. 1 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 14:49

    Besides not being the first Hispanic on the court, Benjamin Cardozo was, she also has made some very sexist and racist statements, such as “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,” said Judge Sotomayor.

    If a white said that about any other race, he would not only not get the appointment, he’d probably be impeached from his current position. So once again, it’s okay to be racist so long as you’re not white, oh and sexist as well.

    • 2 patti in cape coral
      May 27, 2009 at 17:31

      Both Cardozo’s maternal grandparents, Sara Seixas and Isaac Mendes Seixas Nathan, and his paternal grandparents, Ellen Hart and Michael H. Cardozo, were Sephardi Jews; their families immigrated from England before the American Revolution, and were descended from Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula for Holland during the Inquisition.[1] Cardozo family tradition held that their ancestors were Marranos from Portugal,[1] although Cardozo’s ancestry has not been firmly traced to Portugal – Wikipedia quote

  2. 3 T
    May 27, 2009 at 14:51

    People don’t like Sotomayor because she’s a threat to the mostly white power elite that’s controlled the Supreme Court for ages. If Obama was nominated instead of her, does this mean that he’d be called a “token” appointment as well? He’s good enough to be President. But NOT good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice?

    Remember, this almost all white guy court brought you brillant decisions like upholding slavery and various others. So it’s about time to shake things up.

    • 4 Betty Nelson
      May 28, 2009 at 15:09

      The reason that the justice department is included in our government is to define exactly what the constitution is saying in regards to the case brought before it. The congress was made to make the laws and to amend the constitution.

      As to choices [for nominees] being made on any condition, the the only condition that needs to be addressed in any nominee is that they abide by the constitution.

      The Supreme Court is not made to ‘re-write’ the constitution.

  3. 5 patrick Odadi
    May 27, 2009 at 14:55

    What is at stake in this appoint;ent is not her ethinic background and gender but her skillsm it is better to put things into perspective not to be carried away with little details that are less relevent and less important. Useually the media picks what is negative and leaves what is possitive and this where we miss the train, mature debate should focus on skills not gender and ethinicitym cqn do the job that mature debate worth entering other are relevent and non material

  4. 6 SUE
    May 27, 2009 at 14:58

    On a gut level, I am happy that Sonia is who she is, but beyond that too much is being hyped by the media. And the gut level should not hold sway over the intrinsic worth of the person, her experience and her judgments on the benches she has sat on and presided.

  5. May 27, 2009 at 15:03

    Why is this Hispanic woman considered to represent a minority? Women are not a minority and Hispanics now constitute a large and significant proportion of the United States population. Both are currently inadequately represented in positions of power.

    If Sonia Sotomayor were male and American born, her qualifications would still entitle her to this prestigious appointment. She IS a PERSON who makes INFORMED decisions. Erik Little cites ‘God and the Constitution’ as ‘the two guiding principals’ he wants upheld. The fact that she has experienced the tribulations of being poor and of immigrant origin give her a perspective that is representative of the population but currently lacking in the Supreme Court.

    This is a nomination I sincerely hope will be confirmed, for the sake of the nation, not just white wealthy men.

    • 8 D. Torres
      May 31, 2009 at 22:59

      Judge Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx.

      That is borough of the Bronx, state of New York.

      She is American born.

  6. 9 Tom K in Mpls
    May 27, 2009 at 15:16

    Racism is the favorite pastime in the US. As a nation we love it so much we even amend our Constitution to institutionalize it. It has proven to have huge political value. Racism will only end when it no longer exists. As long as it exists in laws, politics and hearts, it will persist.

    It is human nature to find conflict. Brits had soccer hooliganism, middle east has religion and Africa has tribal warfare. None of it makes sense unless you accept that human beings need conflict.

  7. 10 Luz Ma from Mexico
    May 27, 2009 at 15:17

    Why are both her ethnic background and her gender the most important things? Is the media focussing too much on her background rather than her professional life?

    This happens a lot. When someone from a minority or a woman reach a power position, all the focus from the media is about his/her ethnicity or her gender. In my opinion, the reason is simple: that sells papers and/or raise ratings.

    Shouldn’t we be past judging people on who they are rather than what they have done?

    In her field, it is more important what she has done, than who she is or where she come from.

    Another problem that face minorities or women in male-dominated professions, is that people usually think that they got the position from affirmative action measures or to fill a quota, rather than from their own accomplishments. So, many people assume you are not good enough.

  8. 11 patti in cape coral
    May 27, 2009 at 15:18

    Being a latina, I am always happy when someone does something that reflects well on all of us, which unfortunately, is rarely the case. Other than that, I really don’t know much about her except what has been said by the media, that she had a disadvantaged background, that she is liberal and is replacing a liberal judge, and that her decisions haven’t included potentially divisive decisions, such as abortion, where liberals and conservatives disagree. Honestly the fact that she has made it so far despite her disadvantaged background is more impressive to me than her gender or race.

  9. 12 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 15:31

    Honestly, if a white said they could come to a better conclusion than a black or a hispanic, would that go down well with the public? I see this show related to the show about Lula in Brazil, where basically racism against whites is okay.

    • 13 patti in cape coral
      May 27, 2009 at 15:51

      This is the first I heard that she has made racist comments. Does anyone know if she has a history of making racially based judgements?

  10. 14 Roy, Washington DC
    May 27, 2009 at 15:32

    Am I the only one who really doesn’t care who or what she is? Look at her qualifications, not her ethnicity.

  11. 15 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    May 27, 2009 at 15:35

    Minority appointments will probably remain an issue for a few years to come, largely because of the recent history of the USA. It is not as if Mr. Obama has (or needs) a chart of quotas for each population group. His problem is to make sure that no competent candidate is passed over just because they belong to this or the other group. In these early days, every minority appointment will be put under the microscope to identify the tiniest of flaws. The USA will have come a long way when it will be harmless to appoint a minority candidate of average capability to a post. Right now Mr Obama will just have keep looking for the best and the brightest that he can find.

  12. 16 John in Salem
    May 27, 2009 at 15:50

    Of course it shouldn’t matter, and of course it still does. There are women around today who were born before women could vote and you can’t legislate attitudes any more than you can legislate morality.
    She is the ideal pick for the job. Nothing that she has ever said or done has shown any ideological bias other than to the principles of the Constitution and the law. The fact that she is also a Latino woman is a bonus for the Court which SHOULD reflect the ethnic variation of the country.
    I’m hoping the far Right goes after her in a big way – by alienating the Hispanic vote they will also alienate themselves from their party which is now trying to regroup it’s base of support. The Republicans need to clarify who speaks for them if they want to have any meaningful influence for the next 8 years.

  13. 17 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 16:01


    Interesting article, I hope we do discuss her views on race, which apparently she thinks hispanics have superior conclusion making abilities than whites do. So once again, only whites can be racist, right?

  14. 18 Brian Morrison, Kernersville, NC
    May 27, 2009 at 16:04

    There’ll always be some distinction made between one person and another because of some trait or characteristic which is deemed important by a majority. Prejudice and the desire to single out that which is seemingly different is a thoroughly human trait; and one, I’m afraid, we’ll never quite be rid of. The ‘enlightened’ will claim restraint and the ability to suppress this basic human characteristic, but as one prejudice fades into obscurity, another will take it’s place, and even they will find themselves falling into old habits.

  15. 19 Matt in Oregon
    May 27, 2009 at 16:12

    The real challenges she will face in the US Senate will not be based on her ethnicity but her ideology. So saying that anyone who opposes her nomination is doing so because she is a Hispanic woman is just wrong.

    In the US Supreme Court ideology matters, not ethnicity.

    • 20 Tom K in Mpls
      May 27, 2009 at 16:29

      Sorry Matt, the nomination phase is all politics. In politics race is a major tool. Even it is only a small tweak of public attitude. Now once we get past this and on to daily business, then you are quite right.

  16. 21 Peter sc
    May 27, 2009 at 16:19

    Good old UK have a problem with Roman Catholics . So why is there an issue?

  17. 22 Venessa
    May 27, 2009 at 16:24

    It’s fantastic that a hispanic woman was appointed, however the focus on this is wrong. We should be looking at the qualifications of this person. Ultimately that is what is going to matter.

  18. 23 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 16:38

    “I would hope that a wise WHITE MAN with the richness of HIS experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a LATINA FEMALE who hasn’t lived that life,”

    If Alito or Roberts had made this statement, they would have been crucified by the left. Why does Sotomayor get a pass for this racist and sexist comment?

  19. 24 archibald in oregon
    May 27, 2009 at 16:42

    Minority appointments are a problem not only, because, the US. is an inherently racist nation, but also, because, there are many minorities who overcompensate for this ethnic inequity with rhetoric, that comes off as extreme in the eyes of the majority of conservative racists, thereby perpetuating the stereotypes that thwart their efforts toward the equality they deserve. It will take generations to nullify the deeply rooted prejudices that have been fostered for 3 centuries.

  20. May 27, 2009 at 16:54

    Does Judge Sotomayor qualify in experience and intellect? Yes.

    Does Judge Sotomayor also add another perspective to a broadly one-sided court? Yes.

    Are Judge Sotomayor’s detractors more interested in bashing Obama than evaluating his nominee to the Supreme Court? Yes.

    The only vision nay-sayers to Obama and his decisions offer is to trash anything they didn’t come up with themselves. This is a sorry way to help rebuild a country in financial recession with a host of serious legal issues on its plate.

    God’s speed through your approval process, Judge Sotomayor.

  21. 26 Tamatoa
    May 27, 2009 at 16:58

    Minorities matter because they are part of society. We have to learn to live with them. Unless we integrate them in the system we will never learn to understand and therefore live with them. If two people are more or less equally qualified for a important job in the administration I would always choose the representative of the minority – within reason of course. It might seem unfair to the other persons career but It’s healthy for society.

  22. 27 Brian
    May 27, 2009 at 17:06

    I don’t understand why an integrated Supreme Court surprises people. Southwest U.S. is multicultural and multilingual, English and Spanish. Becoming more and more so each day. I grew up on a mixture of English and Spanish slang. I never even noticed a difference between people. Much of my predominately northern European family is bilingual. They’re farmers and teachers. My daughters are becoming bilingual.
    A third of geographical California IS IN Mexico, Baja. It is a wonderful place with wonderful people and safe, unless of course your stupid but that can happen anywhere in the world. We got a state of New Mexico!
    Does everyone else live in a cocoon? I guess this ethnicity/racial stuff matters to someone. Personally, I hope the dog dies. Diversity is great.
    And the food … the food … “be mucha mo’ better” muchacho.

  23. 28 Lance Herrick
    May 27, 2009 at 17:12

    This nomination is important for two reasons: Ms Sotomayor’s ethnic background and her gender. Currently, the US Supreme Court is packed with 7 white males. No matter their experience, they know nothing of growing up in the South Bronx as the daughter of immigrants. In spite of this, Ms Sotomayor won a scholarship to Princeton University and graduated summa cum laude. Then she won honors at the Yale University Law School.
    As a Latina lawyer who graduated from Harvard (B.A. and LL.D) told me last night, there are very few Latina lawyers who have graduated from such universities as Harvard and Yale (less than 700). This makes this nomination even more meaningful.
    Beyond this, President Obama is a very wily politician: by nominating Ms. Sotomayor he has put Republicans in a very tight corner. They oppose this nomination at the peril of losing all chance of making inroads into the growing Hispanic political base in the US.
    Fortunately, both of Wisconsin’s senators will play important roles in the hearings. I am certain that both will endorse this nomination and support Ms. Sotomayor’s confirmation.
    Brown Deer Wisconsin

  24. May 27, 2009 at 17:26

    This issue is really about power and what those folks who want to maintain their privileged position will do in order to maintain it. Judge Sotomayor’s rags to riches story from the South Bronx to potentially the Supreme Court is, by almost all accounts, extraordinary and inspiring. The unfortunate fact remains, however, there are many people in this country will will do what they feel they need to do in order to maintain their power. This includes anonymously speaking out about Sotomayor’s supposed judicial temperament, anti-gay organizations using California’s arguably flawed judicial system to effectively say the majority has every right to deny a minority (gays and lesbians) the right to marry (under Prop 8) and a litany of other issues. A ‘minority’ appointment should not be a big deal in an ideal world, but unfortunately they remain one for a significant amount of people

  25. 30 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    May 27, 2009 at 17:32

    In my native California, and in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Hispanics will soon make up over half the population (in many places they already do.)

    In my own extended family, there are two separate Hispanic branches, two separate black branches, and one Asian branch.

    Problems of race and gender in the USA are sorting themselves out as we speak. It’s time for other places (Sri Lanka and Rwanda come to mind) to make an issue of ethnicity, as Americans have done, in order to address the problem of discrimination.

  26. 31 deryck/trinidad
    May 27, 2009 at 17:37

    I would say that there are racists in all races and not just white people disliking other races. I also agree with Tom K that man as species love conflict even though he(man) preaches peace.

    Historically it has been proven that man finds a way to divide goats from the sheep. In countries of different races and ehnicities there are division on these issues.

    In countries where there is predominantly one race there is division because of religion, wealth and power.

    Those that belong to the same religion, wealth brackets and power strata also have division based on who is super rich, who has greater access to God, and who has more political power.

    There is also division among the super rich and powerful as they look at who has more intelligence, who has the better spouse etc.

    In their family there is division as the leader of the family battles with other family members over wealth and power.

    On the most pure level man has division within himself as he struggles to make decisions and is torn between issues.

    p.s. I’m considering following L.Ron Hubbard and starting my own religion. I have to come with a name though.Ah RACENOLOGY

  27. 32 deryck/trinidad
    May 27, 2009 at 17:46

    To be candid I have a few questions that I would like answered by those on the site and in the studio. Be honest and true to thyself, I won’t criticize. I hope we are mature. It will be great for a future discussion.

    Ques 1 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a white man?

    Ques 2 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a black man?

    Ques 3 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a hispanic man?

    Ques 4 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a mexican man?

    Ques 5 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see an asian man?

    • 33 patti in cape coral
      May 27, 2009 at 17:59

      Deryck, I hate to admit the first thing that pops into my head depends on their appearance, i.e. grooming, clothes, cleanliness, attractiveness. I’m judging that before I get to the race. I am also judging things by age before race comes into the picture. Also, what are the tenets of racenology, maybe I will be your first convert!

    • 34 Brian
      May 27, 2009 at 18:57

      @deryck A GAME! Let’s call it explore hidden biases.
      OK, this be me. For consistencys sake all are early middle age, working.

      Ques 1 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a white man? Obsessing on something, usually something related to an insecurity, touchy. A life driven and controlled by insecurities. Possibly well off and intelligent but with little personal benefit. Not very savy, clueless.

      Ques 2 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a black man? Been through a lot, suffers from a negative social stigma, wonder how he copes with it? Will he show a jovial or angry face? If you can get past the barrier you can really learn a lot from a black man, wise.

      Ques 3 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a hispanic man? Relaxed with life, been through a lot but secure. Easy to get to know and befriend. Fun at parties and in social groups, social.

      Ques 4 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see a mexican man? Peasant background, simple, poor, humble, pleasant, decent family man.

      Ques 5 What’s the first thing that pops in your head when you see an asian man? A lot of different asians, so I will choose Chinese or Japanese, intelligent, focused, possibly pentup, time sensitive, polite, family man,

      I hope this doesn’t insult anyone. This in no way means I think this of any particular person. Just a gut first reaction walking down a street.

  28. 35 viola
    May 27, 2009 at 17:59

    If she has the qualifications for the job and Obama wants to appoint her, there should be no issue. The fact that other people also have the qualifications for the job is not a reason she should not be chosen. Only if she does not have the qualifications should she be rejected.

    Any other considerations are pure politics. Politicians routinely play upon racial fears, whether overt or disguised.

  29. 36 Steve in Boston
    May 27, 2009 at 18:02

    Well if we have to have a liberal judge, I’d rather have a tough-mind and strong-willed Latina woman than some modern 21st Century wishy-washy spineless white guy. A black woman would be even better.

    Maybe we’ll luck out and she’ll be like Obama who is daily learning lessons about the fallaciousness of academia-based leftest policies, and that the Bush administration wasn’t as off-the-wall as its radical detractors made it out to be.

    Old-School 20th Century White Guy

  30. 37 John in Salem
    May 27, 2009 at 18:06

    Steve, et.al,
    If this quote by Sotomayor is the best you can come up with then she’s a virtual saint compared to everyone else in our government, elected or appointed.
    Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, has said things that sound bad, especially when taken out of context. Judging her qualifications on the basis of one quote says more about you than her.

  31. 38 Christina in Indiana
    May 27, 2009 at 18:06

    A very large and compelling research literature shows that implicit racism is alive and well in the US. Until we see more diverse images of success (by gender, race, disability, etc) at every level of our society, these attitudes will endure and discrimination will result. Why are we not enraged that women are not half of every governing body, industrial board of directors, and scientific society? Why are we not protesting the massive overrepresentation of Blacks in US prisons, and underrepresentation of Blacks, Latinos, Natives, and Asians in government? Because these images fit our stereotypes. This MUST change – Excellent choice, President Obama!

  32. 39 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 18:08

    ARGH. BBC, you’re making GLARING factual errors in today’s WHYS. First, Benajamin Cardozo was the first hispanic to sit on the supreme court. Unless you want to deny his existence. ALSO, Puerto Ricans can’t be immigrants, as they are American Citizens. Puerto Rico is part of the US. People who live in Puerto Rico are US citizens and can move around like a residen of Florida can move to California. Hence, her parents were not immigrants given they were living in the US, and were US citizens.

  33. 42 Bardly Geek
    May 27, 2009 at 18:09

    Hypocrisy. If you think it should be a matter of qualifications, why have this program, which just like all the others, makes a big deal of race and sex.
    You invited a couple of guests, an introduced each with “she’s the first female …”
    You are part of the problem.

  34. 43 Caitie, US
    May 27, 2009 at 18:10

    Her parents are not immigrants. When you move from Puerto Rico you don’t immigrate, you emigrate. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens.

  35. 44 Peter
    May 27, 2009 at 18:11

    If John McCain had won the election or if Bush had appointed Ms Satomayor or another minority female this would be a non-issue because the Democrats do not have anyone as shrilly verbose and obtuse as Rush Limbaugh & Co. It’s only an issue because Limbaugh is making it so. It’s a case of no news so make it up as opposed to here is the nominee.

  36. 45 Scott - FL, USA
    May 27, 2009 at 18:12

    We have, in America, become a nation obsessed with “making history” by giving prominence to minorities and women.

    I don’t think the issue is people not wanting a hispanic woman on the supreme court. The real issue is that people are so crazed by wanting to create an historic moment that they will only consider a female from a minority race to fill this position.

    We are still a racist and sexist nation, only now it is against white males.

  37. 46 Jim King
    May 27, 2009 at 18:13

    Sonia Sotomayor said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences” — referring to herself, we are to assume — “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Now, lets suppose Obama had nominated an equally or better qualified white male (I know, I know, stop laughing) who said, “I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a (insert ANY other group name here) who hasn’t lived that life.” What do you think the political storm from that would sound like?

  38. 47 Kim Johnson
    May 27, 2009 at 18:14

    Yes, it matters, because we don’t appoint people to the supreme court because they are minority! We appoint them because they are qualified, they are competent. She is not qualified, nor competent. She was only appointed because she is Hispanic and a woman, only for politics! She is a big liberal, the conservatives should fight her appointment to the end!

  39. May 27, 2009 at 18:14

    There is more to Ms Sotomayer then her race and gender. She is a highly qualified and talented judge, and comes from a similar political position as President Obama. The fact is there are many people as qualified as she, of all races and both genders. From among those qualified, why not choose a woman? Why not choose an Hispanic? We need a variety of perspectives and personal stories on the bench.

  40. May 27, 2009 at 18:16

    The reason we are talking about the fact that she is a minority is she is the first to point it out. When someone from a minority group is appointed or elected to office they are the first to point out that they are of a different race. I find it hypocritical that if a white person brings up the race of someone he/she is racist but if someone of a different race points it out they just have pride for their race

    Anthony Reno, NV

  41. 51 Venessa
    May 27, 2009 at 18:17

    the problem is not that she says she would have a different perspective. We need that diversity but for her to imply that her interpretation of law is somehow superior to the others sitting as a justice is wrong.

  42. 52 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 18:18

    The context of the comment of Sotomayor was this, taken from the NY Times link:

    In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion — often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor — that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

    “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,” said Judge Sotomayor, who is now considered to be near the top of President Obama’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

    She is saying because she is a latina woman, she could come to a better conclusion than a white male…… If you look at the context, it IS racist and sexist.

  43. 53 Judith
    May 27, 2009 at 18:20

    In the United States the prevailing cultural mind set is Anglo white. While ‘minorities’ are acknowledged as existing, white people still think of this country as being a white Christian only country. It’s as if at some point all of “those people” will go back to where they come from. Latinos are particularly targeted because most white people think they are illegals or children of illegals. They do not distinguish ethnicities, only skin colors and have no U.S. historic reference to the populating of their own country. It is appalling.

    Extreme conservatives see the condemnation of Ms. Sotomoyer’s nomination as a way to send a message to Hispanics.

    Portland Oregon

  44. May 27, 2009 at 18:21

    As long as people still hold inherited notions about race, gender and background, the appointment of a person from a disadvantaged category will continue to cause a stir as it happens with any novelty.

    People are still tribal although they live in a modern society where there is a mix of races and cultures. A minority group is still seen as a minority although it is a part of the mainstream.

    When a person of a minority group is in a key position, any mistake by them is generated to their minority but if a person of the majority is incompetent the blame is directed at them alone.

    However, any person should be treated on the basis of qualifications as long as people are equal before the law.

    Ironically in Bolivia the current president Evo Morales is the first president from the indigenous population – which make 60% of the total population – to be elected. His elections is still the focus of interest although he is from the majority.

  45. 55 Robert
    May 27, 2009 at 18:25

    Discussion of the issue of Sotomayor’s gender and ethnicity reflects both the progress we have made in that we actually have someone so well qualified whose gender and ethnicity are different from the prior norm, and the distance society still must travel so these issues are not seen as issues at all. This discussion in the news shows we are clearly still in the midst of that transition.

  46. 56 Lynn
    May 27, 2009 at 18:25

    As usual, the press has jump on the “Hot Topic” first. The nominee is a WOMAN. The nominee is HISPANIC. Okay, being a white woman who went to ethnically diverse schools, and who voted for Obama, not because he was the lesser of two evils but because I believe in his vision for our Country, I am pleased to see a woman of ethnicity be nominated. We should see some diversity of race and gender reflected in our most powerful posts. That said, I would really be ecstatic if all the new media would start their own vetting process. What we really could use from our news media is a very thorough and public look AT THE NOMINEE’S RECORDS as she worked her way through the Judicial System. What we don’t need to read and hear about is how she dresses, her choice of hair styles, or where or if she goes to Church. None of these are criteria for the position for which she has been nominated. Well, maybe the Church issue is relevant, but maybe now would be a good time to find out IF it IS relevant in her case. I would like to know how she thinks and what her opinions are about a variety of topics that have and/or could come before the Supreme Court. Is she politically left leaning or right leaning? Does she have anything in her past that could indicate that she is less an independent thinker than a politically swayed decision maker? I want to know if she can and will speak for the people rather than for a small yet powerful segment of our population. I really want to know if she is an INFORMED DECISION MAKER. I want to know if she has any opinions about our Constitution and what those opinions might be. What matters most to me is not her gender or her ethnicity but why she may or may not be an excellent choice for a seat on the Supreme Court.

  47. 57 Tom K in Mpls
    May 27, 2009 at 18:28

    The astronaut on the air sucks at debate. But she started to make a good point I agree with. She pointed out the context in the speech that Sotomayor was quoted in. Sotomayor was saying that she brings experience to bear that does not exist in white men.

    This is true, valid and of debatable value. In my opinion it is important to try to represent as much of our nation as possible in the Supreme Court. The two dominant political powers care only about increasing their control through the appointees, and routinely sacrifice the good of the public.

    Also deryck, I find your questions meaningless without the context of dress and settings. That’s when your questions get very interesting. 😉

  48. 58 a guy
    May 27, 2009 at 18:28

    Hispanics should have a say on the greatest court in the land. Simple as that.

  49. 59 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 27, 2009 at 18:30

    A great nomination, at least minoritisam been acknowledged in USA.

  50. 60 Daniel/ Nebraska (U.S.)
    May 27, 2009 at 18:35

    In my opinion minorities are only an issue because those who hold office, still have scars form the past. Me, being a teenager growing up in a (relatively) less sexist, racist, and anti-gay culture makes the media hullabaloo over minorities just seem ridiculous.

    The older generations simply need to get over the superficial and start living in the world we have now, and not to be haunted by the ghosts of the past.

  51. 61 Kathryn
    May 27, 2009 at 18:35

    The reason that Republicans can get away with implying or stating that Sotomayor is a token appointment is due to the ignorance of some in their base. For example, I’ve seen several statements online asking why Obama doesn’t appoint an American. They think Puerto Ricans aren’t Americans!

    Indianapolis, Indiana

  52. 62 Enagha, Dallas
    May 27, 2009 at 18:35

    i knew that Sotomayor’s appointment would raise hell. I saw her appointment as intellectually and socially acceptable. Anybody who feels that she is not competent should despute her judicial experiences and not look at her gender or ethnicity.

  53. 63 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 18:39

    Would not her presence on the court provide a hostile work environment for the white male Justices given she thinks she is more capable of reaching a decision than any white male is? With that superiority complex, wouldn’t the white males on the court feel like they are being harassed knowing her opinion that she is superior to white males?

  54. 64 Kathryn
    May 27, 2009 at 18:42

    Until humans can reach a point in history where no one has to fight for resources, a segment of the population will be controlled by fear for survival. In some this comes out as racism. In the case of Sotomayor, some people who would use power to put others down assume that she would. They cannot conceive of someone different than them taking their views into consideration because they do not consider outsiders to be worthy of their own viewpoint. If everyone was equal then they would feel guilty for treating others unequally so they justify their behavior.

  55. 65 Robby Evans
    May 27, 2009 at 18:43

    The real issue is that a persons race or gender does not mater as much as a persons ,character when we speak only of race and the education and experience of someone we must never refuse to investigate the persons character their morals and values.

    World history teaches that what makes a good leader is their values not just their education.

    We must remember America is a Republic and has never been a democracy.

    All supreme court nominees should be scrutinized to determine their values to understand what decisions they would make on the court.

    Robby Evans

    North Carolina, USA.

  56. 66 David in Florida
    May 27, 2009 at 18:43

    As a Native American (American Indian) I think race is and should be an issue. We have come too close to having a homogenized society, and I find that frightening. We should celebrate our diversity. The fact that Sotomayor is Latina is important and relevant. I don’t feel that the old white men on the Supreme Court represent me fully. I am of a different race and religion. After all, my grandparents were born into a world where they were unable to vote, or even testify in court against a white, because they were Indian. All of this is relevant today because we still don’t have full religious freedom, and our rights as indigenous people are always in jeopardy.

  57. 67 sarah
    May 27, 2009 at 18:43

    From the middle-class, white working woman’s perspective: I’m happy with this appointment. I expect there are probably many suitable candidates for this appointment, of various colors, creeds and backgrounds, all of which would been controversial for one reason or another, as discussed here.

    Having recently spent time in the public school system (urban fringe) as a volunteer parent, one observation is that hispanic students, though comprising some 30% of the student body are sadly picked-on and demoralized and alientated. This appointment, as I see it, is one way to make those kids feel stronger and perhaps more hopeful.

    I’m glad to see the court look more like our country in terms of appearance. If this means one candidate is slighted based merely on gender, race or ethnicity, so be it.

  58. 68 David
    May 27, 2009 at 18:51

    Spot on President Obama.I comment you for knowing how to run America and show the rest of the world that we were all born from a mother with the help of a father irrespective of who we are. That we all possess brains used for thinking and doing things right.

    Good luck Sonia. I wish I were able to attend the party.

    And for the media and the frightened elite club, please have a cold shower and relax. The world is improving for the better of humanity.

  59. 69 Scott [M]
    May 27, 2009 at 18:51


    I would love for the supreme court have some truly progressive appointees who were indeed biased towards intelligence and equality for all, regardless of precedent or what our preciously outdated Constitution says. We wouldn’t need a supreme court if it was about just following already established laws and everything was clear—there would be nothing to decide, if this were the case.

    I certainly question Sonia Sotomayor’s philosophical intelligence based on her statements. Because, even if those alarming quotes were taken out-of-context, they were unintelligent and unsophisticated. If anything she seems too common and, well, average.

      May 28, 2009 at 19:14

      Yes I agree with Scot [M]. Those quotes were just too pedestrian. If Latinos are Americans, why do they still want to be Latinos and that this was a way of recognizing them as such? Why would she agree to be a Latino female judge?
      She surely cant hide anywhere now that she is the new kid on the block. She is visible in every angle.

  60. 71 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 18:55

    How can you blindly apply justice if you have empathy for a litigant based upon their race?

  61. 72 Stephen Emi
    May 27, 2009 at 18:57

    I think her normination should be examined on the basis of merit and qualification for the position not on ethinic or racial dimension. President Obama made the right choice as a Supreme Court Judge.

  62. 73 Majidah
    May 27, 2009 at 18:58

    I think it is great that we are finally talking about race in the US instead of ignoring it. Since the civil rights movement there has been a suppression of racial issues which in my opinion only fuels more racism. There is still plenty of systemic racism within state and federal laws. Sotomayor is correct when she states that a Latina women would bring a richness to the court. There are cultural differences that do exist which I think we should embrace instead of suppress because those differences bring a view that may otherwise be overlooked. Being an African American woman, I have had certain experiences because of my race and culture which has shaped my beliefs. In the same way, Sotomayor would bring her wealth of experiences that a white man may not otherwise bring.

  63. May 27, 2009 at 19:05

    As long as people still hold inherited notions about race, gender and background, the appointment of a person from a disadvantaged category will continue to cause a stir.

    People are still tribal although they live in a modern society where there is a mix of races and cultures. A minority group is still seen as a minority although it is a part of the mainstream.

    However, any person should be treated on the basis of qualifications as long as people are equal before the law.

  64. 75 Brian from Ca.
    May 27, 2009 at 19:15

    My wife’s a civil engineer. In meetings of equals, she’s the one who takes the most competent notes and is the most careful in speaking. When she gets up to refill her cup of coffee, she might ask if anyone else wants a refill. Her male superiors appreciate her ability to keep their job and their office on track, but take breaks with others. Eventhough she’s a professional and supervises 13 mostly male engineers, her job has secretarial aspects, and there are mommy, mommy, mommy ‘thangs’.
    When she recent graduated school and was designing projects, the salesman would often get a laugh from the client when she was introduced as the engineer.
    If Sotomayor has made a negative comment or two this may be where it comes from.

  65. 76 steve
    May 27, 2009 at 19:23

    If Obama wants to appoint a black,latina, lesbian, muslim supreme court justice that holds liberal views, then more power to Barack Obama. But what he shouldn’t do is appoint people who have sexist and racist views, which Sotomayor holds.

  66. 77 Bob Fulton
    May 27, 2009 at 19:23

    I think one of the facts that gets overlooked is that people like Judge Sotomayor or indeed Barrack Obama to not get to such high positions in our society without being more like the power structure than being different from it. Judge Sotomayor while Hispanic is far more likely to reflect the views of other people in her circle of associates than the views of the average Puerto Rican struggling to get by in a Anglo world.
    Her Hispanic background may flavor her thinking but it is not the meat of it.

  67. 78 tnode
    May 27, 2009 at 19:42

    “Accomplishments have no color” -Leontyne Price

  68. 79 Robby Evans
    May 27, 2009 at 19:54

    The anti – Christian left wing in America all say she should be examined only on the basis of her merit and qualification for the position , this is true to a point yet does she believe in God what kind of person is she dose she respect the rule of law, all human life or will she attempt to legislate her will over the established laws created by Congress and signed into law by the President .

    Supreme Court Justices only have the legal right to confirm or denie the constitutionality of any given law and they are never to create any environment for laws of reason by their decisions, by misinterpretation on their part on the lines of their own political agenda.

    Her very own personal views and values will reveal if she would make sound impartial rulings on the court.

    Her public statements show in fact a red flag as she herself in her own words has a bias against other races than her own and a bias against white men .

    Her public statements show a lack in judgment at the least on her part even if it is the way
    she truly feels personally.

    No one with racist or gender bias should be on the supreme court if they are not by their nature impartial.

    Robby Evans

    North Carolina, USA.

  69. 80 Dennis Junior
    May 27, 2009 at 20:01

    It’s good news, that the Sonia Sotamayor is the nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court…But, her being a minority is a non-starter in reality…Since, she is being given the post because of Obama other problems in the U.S.

    ~Dennis Junior~

  70. 81 deryck/trinidad
    May 27, 2009 at 20:17

    Folks I thank you for your honesty in answering the questions because alot of times our first impressions are based on past experiences with different people as well as what the media tells us subliminally. It would be nice if we could fight the negative first impressions and approach each person as a human, nothing more nothing less.

  71. 82 John LaGrua/New York
    May 27, 2009 at 20:25

    The race or ethnic issues are often raised by those who have the mote in their own eye.Comments are often quoted out of context distorting the meaning.This appointment is a worthy one as this extraordinary woman has demonstrated the intellectual ability and the integrity required for the role as a justice of the Supreme Court .Not all appointments in the past have shown such merit .Well done Mr. President.

  72. 83 deryck/trinidad
    May 27, 2009 at 20:31

    Point taken Tom K, CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT

  73. 84 archibald in oregon
    May 27, 2009 at 21:19

    Before we press the issue of her racism or sexism too much, let us consider the underlying sexism and racism that she has been contending with her whole life, from the. If the white establishment can see no wisdom in the honesty of Sotomayor, it only succeeds in strengthening her statements by reacting so vehemently in condemnation.

  74. 85 Roberto
    May 27, 2009 at 22:28

    RE “” Why are both her ethnic background and her gender the most important things? “”

    ———- 95% of the American public could care less who she is. They don’t care about the Supreme Court.

    Her ethic background is very important to the media in marketing the story and creating a controversy. The only thing that matters to congress is her politics which will influence the court for years.

    It also could be her lifelong diabetes becomes an issue since diabetics are typically very fragile and not long lived. I feel sorry for any modern nominee to the court as the politics could get vicious.

  75. May 27, 2009 at 23:30

    Minority appointments should not be an issue. Instead they should be relished. As they represent the cultural and ethnic diversity in American society.

  76. 87 james n
    May 28, 2009 at 05:35

    I find it a ironic that everytime there is a minority the majority or the right find a way to try to marginalize the candidate. Judge Sotomayor has inpeccible credentials from Princeton and Harvard. As President Obama indicated in the introduction news conference Judge Sotomayor has more experience at her appointment than the current 9 judges. Oh and by the way she is a hispanic woman. I hope for a day when race or gender don’t matter unfortunately the media on the right can’t seem to let go of the past.

  77. 88 steve
    May 28, 2009 at 13:46

    I still don’t get why people are denying and ignoring that Benjamin Cardozo was the first hispanic supreme court justice? Why is he being whitewashed from history?

  78. May 28, 2009 at 19:17

    Being a woman or a Hispanic has nothing to do with her being a Supreme Court Nomanee.

    What are her qualities?

    The important thing are her views on the constitution. Her belief that the Bill of Rights are not valid for individual rights in modern society are what causes some folks to raise their eyebrows.

    If you do not think the 2nd Amendment is an individual right for citizens, but should go the wayside of obsolete thinking………is that a slippery slope?

    Could not the First Amendment be also obsolete? That elected representatives are the only people who ought to have the freedom to say what they think. I mean in the modern world words can be dangerous, and we should realize things have changed since the founders lined out freedom of speech as the first of all rights to individual citizens.

    Those original 10 individual rights were meant to be forever the basic guidlines for a free and survivable society.

    Obama proved that if you have good ideas, an effective delivery, and obvious good character, race really does not matter………We have grown, and I dare say we have grown past race being a major factor in negotiating our society. Manner, style, effectiveness, ability to deliver is the current rage.

    troop on the Oregon coast.

  79. May 28, 2009 at 22:40

    Any societal appointments legal or otherwise need to reflect ethnic diversity. That is nothing to do with tokenism. What is always more important than the judge is the law that he or she implements.

  80. 91 Brian Foulkrod
    May 29, 2009 at 06:33

    Instead of even bothering with having the first this or that, or trumpeting it as a huge event, how about just electing and appointing the most qualified…white, black, brown, green….two legs or three…who cares?

    Extremist politicians and radio hosts stir up non issues for votes and ratings.

    The sooner we stop listening to their shows (and make them get real jobs), and refuse to vote for any politician from any party playing race, hatred or scare mongering (yes this includes politicians of all races who do it to their advantage), the sooner we can return to “creating a more perfect union”.

    Read the Constitution, and put down the bumper stickers and comic books.

  81. 92 anumati66
    May 29, 2009 at 12:49

    I felt a need of answering the question because of my surprise with such a issue;there is a fact i’m not coming from U.S/live in Serbia/to know everything what happens there, but a lot of things i know,so i am stuck for i don’t know much of why would choice of a woman from Latin America background be a problem?I know of black and white relations,obviously i missed this.
    America is very interesting country-from one side big,rich ,represents glamour to the rest of the world and at the same time becomes undermined with own backward ideas belonging to the remote past, when wild hods of people killed each other based on race and language diversity.Yes, i know story about Indians, know of conquest by Spanish,many nations have been built in America.Why problem?You all there are legatee of a long time ago people who were coming to America in search for better life.Such romantic story on which has been built wonderful movies is your way-mark to the future.Please,pay respect and love to each national of yours,they all are hope and health solution for further progress of U.S.Think, you have great chance to revive the most shining days in your past, and pay due of sacrifices fell for the sake of your happier and brighter lives.

  82. May 29, 2009 at 15:14


    Great thoughts, thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: