Sotomoyor: Race, Reproduction, & Gender By Jaylon Williams

I am watching the confirmation hearings of Sotomayor; currently, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions is attacking her 1970s liberalism via race, gender, and reproductive rights. The topic of affirmative action, once thought almost dead, has been recently resurrected by way of Obama’sselection of a candidate who might look to find sympathy among the American people. I suspect the key  issue today is that of race and gender, the two factors that shaped the 1970s with two instrumental court cases: Bakke v. California…. The court upheld the use of race as a factor in hiring and admission. The other factor regarding gender/reproduction was Roe v. Wade. Here the court utilized the 9th Amendment to draw a conclusion. Conservative blacks and whites fear Sotomayor due to her 1970s approach.

As public policy, affirmative action can be dated to President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s June 4, 1965 address to the graduating class of Howard University. LBJ intended this speech as his own Civil Rights Proclamation. He chose his words carefully, with an eye towards posterity: You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair…. This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity – not just legal equity but human ability – not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”


10 thoughts on “Sotomoyor: Race, Reproduction, & Gender By Jaylon Williams

  1. I would like to think that Supreme Court justices make decisions (a) based on the constitution and (b) without prejudice.

    On several occasions, Sotomayor has said that her sex and her race makes her a better judge. I would be bothered if any judge put on a set of sex/race hearing aides before listening to a case.

    Just a few weeks ago, an affirmative action case Sotomayor ruled on was overturned by the very body she is in a position to join. Some white firefighters were not hired by a city despite higher test scores because the city felt they might be held liable if they did not hire minorities. The white firefighters lost the first round, appealed to a higher court (Sotomayor’s) and were told the ruling stood without any chance to actually present their case. Therefore, the firefighters took their claim to the Supreme Court—where they won. While the Court was split on the overturn, pretty much every justice was surprised that Sotomayor’s court did not at least hear the case again before summarily ruling on it.

    Had she and some of the other judges already made up their minds before hearing an actual presentation? Her comments do not inspire confidence in her impartiality.

    Sotomayor may make a great justice, but I think she has opened herself up to legitimate questions on the way she decides cases.

    Let us flip it: Had a judge come out and said, “I think I’m a better judge because I’m a man and I’m white” the national media would have a meltdown.


    Let’s concede for the moment that in some instances affirmative action is helpful: putting training wheels on to help guide organizations to be fairer and more open-minded about their selection process. For example, I think the NFL has really benefited from this in the way they must hire coaches. At some point, the training wheels need to come off before they actually begin to retard growth and development. Most Americans would snicker at the sight of a teenager riding a bike with training wheels, but many of those same people would squeal at the suggestion we remove certain affirmative action policies because the nation might fall down and skin its knee.

  2. Great points Matt although I do not think AA is helpful in any way, shape or form.

    I also would hope that a Judge would look to the Constitution and NOT her “life experiences” when making a ruling.

    I do love the threats the Democrats are making on voting against her.

  3. Roe v. Wade an issue of gender? Seriously? Give me a break. Pro-‘choice’ers just continue to miss the point. If this were simply about a woman’s right to do with her body what she wants, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. The question is whether or not the process you are ending is a life. Quit with the indignant – dare I say ignorant – pot shots. “OMG…they want to control that woman’s body!” No, we want to save the life she’s about to selfishly end. It’s not about the woman. It’s about her child.

    Sorry, struck a nerve.

  4. The NFL’s Rooney Rule is interesting because it was not a government mandate, but a self-correction action taken by the NFL itself. Also, it did not demand that teams hire black coaches, only that it at least interview them. Three years after the rule started, minority coaches had jumped as a percentage from 6% to 22%.

    Now, some claim that the rule did not have that much of an affect, that the NFL was already moving that direction. Even the creator of the rule, Dan Rooney, claims his team (the Steelers) hired Mike Tomlin not because of the rule, but because that was their master plan.

    Whether the rule helped or not, the fact of the matter is that black coaches are now being hired based on their merit. In the last two Super Bowls, three different African American men have led their team to the big game, and two have walked away with rings. There is now talk of removing the Rooney Rule.

    Why remove it? For the same reason one would remove a cast after a broken leg has set. It’s continued existence would retard growth and development. A minority coach may have appreciated the Rooney Rule in 2003, but it would be a little insulting now to be hired to fill a quota rather than on professional merit. Because this “cast” was set in the private sector rather than by the government, it is much easier to do away with when the time is right.

  5. I would agree, Nim, that “pro-choice” is a rather narcissistic term. It makes a very tenuous assumption about when life begins and the value of a fetus. However, the fact is our culture continues to wrestle with the question; any discussion of a potential new Supreme Court justice will eventually lead to the subject.

    Could Sotomayor actually be a stealth supporter for the “pro life” position? Apparently, Sotomayor has told many of the Senators in private meetings that Roe v. Wade is “settled law”, but what else is she supposed to say? Also, she is Catholic. Granted, Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Biden also claim to be Catholic despite being off the reservation on the Catholic and the Pope’s stand on the abortion. However, Sotomayor has not really had to rule on a case that would truly reveal her stand on when terminating a pregnancy makes sense.

  6. I do not know about that (pro-choice=narcissism). It is a western term used to evaluate the political condition of North American politics; it has little political value in Western European states; it is one used by political factions to place value on a long dated issue. Sotomayor reflects the views and values of half the American population. Thus to render the term narcissistic is way to subjective. It is a term that has evolved through our political and religious cultural wars. She is just a pond in this process.

  7. If I see “Klan Street”, I’m going to assume it was named after the KKK. When I hear “pro-choice”, I”m going to assume it means pro-abortion and not a broader political philosophy. 😉

    “Choice” sounds great and is a great political buzz word, but it is meaningless without context. Pro-choice, as an accepted synonym for pro-abortion, leaves all the choice to a single individual (the female) with no consideration for either the child/potential child or the father. It can be an ego-centric viewpoint; narcissism may be too strong a word, but it toes the line.

    Abortion is a difficult issue and both sides have an argument. My own view on when life begins is that I don’t know… so I prefer to err on the side of caution. Having absolute certitude on this subject means someone probably hasn’t thought about it enough. Anyway, doing a sleight-of-hand with words like “choice” and “freedom” is a clever marketing idea that doesn’t get past me or Nimrod (heh).


    Watched some of Sotomayor today. She seemed to handle herself well. Is it just me, or do the Senators come off as intellectual lightweights compared to the judicial nominees in these things? The nominees are coached on how to run the clock out while giving vague answers. Their records say the most about them, so the rest is a dog and pony show.

    Again, we can speculate on what her core beliefs regarding abortion, but we don’t really know. Her beliefs are also a different thing than how she may have to rule according to the law.

  8. I do see your point; however, as you have stated — this is more and nothing more than a game of ideological positioning.We are on the same page; I find it interesting how a bunch of “white” men are attacking her on race — as if it is not a matter nor should it be. Note: A room full of white males. The abortion issue is a far more complex matter. Can you believe in our nation there might be an issue more divisive than race?

  9. not going to weigh in on all the issues, just wanted to add my two bits about abortion. i’m not a highly intelligent or educated person. but i’m smart enough and educated enough.

    here’s the thing. i’m now carrying my 8th little one. a surprise. we thought we were done. 🙂 we are shocked, an emotion many women go through i’m sure. due to circumstances that are beyond the business of the general internet public, this is not a good time to have a baby for us. however, we find that we are happy anyhow. why? because each child we have has brought an amazing amount of joy and has expanded our understanding of the world around us!

    we have lost 3 of our precious ones. and it tore a hole in our hearts that will never be filled. we lost them early on…. but they were alive inside of me…. i saw their beating hearts on an ultrasound, my body changed to accommodate their growing lives that ended before time.

    birth control doesn’t always work, sometimes, a life results from parental “choice” but that’s where the choice ends… once the act has been committed and a life has been formed…. to put an end to that life is nothing short of murder. if you need a choice…. CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE SEX! because if you choose to, you have to deal with what sometimes happens next. and if you don’t want your baby, let me know, i’ll meet you at the delivery table because no amount of anyone invalidating the lives of my lost children can ever tell me that they didn’t live or that they weren’t real because i know one day- i’ll meet them when i meet my maker and i’ll hold them, and hug them, and tell them to their faces that they were missed, loved and wanted! and i’ll take any unwanted babies out there just because life is precious.

    there is more i could say, but i’ll stop anyhow. so many moms out there can’t have children but want to…. surely there is a better way to handle “surprises” than to just throw them away as if they were used socks.

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