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May 29, 2009

Removing the Blindfold from Lady Justice

Joe Charlebois

There are many reasons why there will be serious opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor – President Obama's current pick to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. This pick has been made strictly for political expediency and is not being made in the best interest of the people of the United States.


The president based his pick not on the qualifications of Judge Sotomayor, but on her ethnicity, sex and modest upbringing. There can be little doubt that the president failed to pick a jurist from the nation's top tier. Experts from both sides of the spectrum agree on this.


Mr. Obama stated upon the announcement of Justice Souter's retirement that he would look for someone that would show empathy from the bench. Empathy, Mr. President, has no place in the land's highest court. Empathy has nothing to do with legal decisions. Empathy is the removal of Lady Justice's blindfold as she takes a peek at both parties involved in a particular suit. Lady Justice should not see color, creed, sex, wealth or ethnicity when ruling on the validity of the case brought before her. She is blindfolded for just this reason – everyone is to be treated equally. The scales won't remain balanced if the blindfold is removed.


The New York Times, with little surprise, has applauded the appointment of Judge Sotomayor. In its May 27, 2009, editorial The Times did not point out even one case where Judge Sotomayor separated herself from the many qualified jurists available for elevation to the Supreme Court.


In contrast they point out that her greatest qualifications are that she is an Ivy League educated Hispanic woman. The Times ignores the numerous times that Judge Sotomayor has had rulings overturned. They congratulate the president for being politically astute. They note that this appointment will not necessarily improve the court, but rather it should help lock up the ever-growing Hispanic voting bloc in the next election.


The Washington Times editors pointed out that even those on the left, such as Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic, have heard from fellow liberals who harbor concerns about her "temperament" and "judicial craftsmanship." This is due to the large number of her rulings being overturned by higher courts.


There are certain areas of concern that should be raised in the confirmation process. The two most prominent are racial preferences and judicial activism.


First, Judge Sotomayor has proclaimed in a speech before the Duke Law School in 2005 that "the Court of Appeals is where policy is made." She added immediately in a sarcastic manner that "I shouldn't say that, we don't 'make' law."


It isn't lost on the rest of us that she believes that if legislation does not pass through the respective legislative branches, the judiciary can by fiat "make it law." It is obvious based on her record and her words that she does intend to legislate from the bench.


Court instituted edicts and policy are antithetical to our founding values. They are an abridgement of the rights of the legislative branches and – in turn – the electorate. The legislatures are the sole bodies responsible for affecting policy through legislation. It is the Supreme Court's duty to interpret the law and determine constitutionality.


Secondly, Judge Sotomayor's inability to administer justice in a color-blind manner is extremely troubling. In her most notable case, Ricci v. DeStafano, she allowed the City of New Haven, CT, to institute discriminatory practices based solely on the color of one’s skin.


The case was brought after 19 white firemen (including one Hispanic) were denied promotion in spite of passing the race neutral advancement exam required by the department. One fireman, Frank Ricci, who has fought dyslexia his entire life, spent a year of preparation, untold hours of study and over $1,000 in instruction materials to be able to pass the test and move up the ranks within the department.


The City of New Haven did not like the results of the test because no black firemen scored high enough to be promoted. So, the results were dismissed and all the efforts of those who were successful were bypassed to fulfill a politically correct quota system. In this case Judge Sotomayor didn't rule in favor of those deserving of promotion but rather against them based solely on the color of their skin.


The Supreme Court cannot afford to have a justice with the built in biases that Judge Sotomayor has.


Let's hope for the benefit of the American people that the Senate realizes this and denies President Obama his first Supreme Court nominee.


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