May 6, 2009

An openly gay Justice to replace Souter?

Dahlia Lithwick talks about all those females who are or seem to be lesbians.

This struck me:
Sonia Sotomayor, the Bronx judge at the top of most shortlists, was briefly married in college and never had children. In his woefully under-reported "The Case Against Sotomayor," the New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen quotes an anonymous source alleging that she is a "bully" and "not all that smart." Also included in this damning portrait: "Her former clerks report that because Sotomayor is divorced and has no children, her clerks become like her extended family—working late with her, visiting her apartment once a month for card games (where she remembers their favorite drinks), and taking a field trip together to the premier [sic] of a Harry Potter movie."

Do you think Justice Scalia, with his devoted wife and abundant extended family, takes his clerks to see Harry Potter? Or even La Traviata? A woman who surrounds herself with young, paid employees late into the night has a faint air of scandal and desperation about her or, at the very least, of being something short of a fully realized woman.
Wow. It never occurred to me to think that way. I just thought it was really nice that she socialized with the clerks. But okay. Maybe it does look desperate.

(This all reminds me of the way, back when Souter was nominated, Senator Orrin Hatch said he would have been more comfortable with a family man.)

78 comments:

TMink said...

Color me stupid in today's climate of genderracesexuality pimping, but I am not concerned who the justices sleep with.

Trey

garage mahal said...

I don't get what Sotomayor is supposed to be desperate about. Hanging out with clerks and having fun sounds a hell of alot better than being married to Scalia.

Chris said...

^^ what he/she said. Although after Souter I suspect singles are off the list as unless they are openly gay or widowed.

Cedarford said...

I don't know if Sotomayor is gay or not, but for certain Democrats, it just adds to the affirmative action bonus points.

1. Woman. Check!
2. Hispanic. Check!
3. Really liberal. Check!
4. Possibly gay? Check! (Upgraded to a 'wonderful'!! qualification if she "comes out".)

Who knows, if she is the nominee, even more bonus points could come out.
a. Had a disadvantaged childhood.
b. Only sleeps with minorities, gender undeterminated.
c. "Overcame a handicap"!
d. Had a disease the media likes to say showed "courage".

Her understanding of law? How she would interpret? Come on! How should that be more relevant than biography and "identity" in making a selection?

MadisonMan said...

Echo Trey: Who Cares?

Unless the new Judge is being serviced while on the bench, is it really our business?

Marcia said...

I'm with you, Althouse. I read those details and think she must be a considerate person.

Maybe that's because I clerked for a judge who treated his clerks like family. He was a widower with grown children (no dysfunctional family issues) and had plenty of friends. His best friends were non-lawyers.

So in his case it certainly wasn't about desperation for company. It was about liking lawyers and staffing his chambers with lawyers he thought well of personally as well as intellectually.

OTOH, if Judge Sotomayer is lonely, there is an element of that with many judges, whatever their family status. Judges are lawyers. They go to school, work and fraternize with other lawyers. Some don't have any meaningful friendships with people who aren't colleagues (or clients). Then they are appointed or elected to the bench, and there is an instantaneous wall between them and many of the most important people in their lives. It can be a big problem, at least for a while. You have to distance yourself from some close friends. Who can replace them? If you prefer the company of lawyers, it is other judges and law clerks who are appropriate and most accessible candidates for friendship.

chuck b. said...

People whose whole lives revolve around work are something short of fully realized.

Let's give them power over us in as many ways as possible.

Chris said...

I have a feeling the majority of supreme court judges lives revolve around work. With the possible exception of Souter who actually retired rather than die in office.

Palladian said...
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Palladian said...

Now if we could only get Tonya Harding's boyfriend to kneecap Judge Sotomayor, she could be the perfect liberal Supreme Court justice: a woman, hispanic, lesbian and handicapped. Oh the diversity! Oh the empathy! It makes me tingle with enchantment!

"Hanging out with clerks and having fun sounds a hell of alot better than being married to Scalia."

Care to explain why Justice Ginsberg is such a close friend of Justice Scalia? Could it be that there are people who are intelligent enough to have ideological differences and not personalize them? A lesson you and your little friends here could learn.

HelenParr said...

Just because you work with someone doesn't mean you have to socialze with them. It seems lonely, yes, but also a manipulation of her power disparity over her clerks. Boss rape.

Maguro said...

It seems lonely, yes, but also a manipulation of her power disparity over her clerks.

Agreed...socializing with the boss is usually rather awkward for the underlings. Let's face it, most of us would rather go see Harry Potter with someone else.

Matt Eckert said...

Doesn't "Sortamujer" mean kinda dykey in Spanish.

pj (lowercase) said...
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BJM said...

Can we just get the gratuitous gender/ideolgical cat fight and media fawning over with already?

Obama made his criteria pretty clear, the nominee will be sympathetic to gender issues, regardless of their gender.

Garage it's very unprofessional to blur the line with subordinates, and very unsound management policy that has the potential to badly damage unit cohesion or morale and legally expose the employer. Which is why most companies and government agencies either prohibit or frown upon fraternization.

It's one thing to have a friendly, relaxed, pleasant workplace, but socializing or becoming involved in subordinates private lives places the decision maker in an awkward position and no matter how well you manage the situation there is subtle in-fighting and perceived favoritism, just as there is among siblings.

I've learned this the hard way over the years. I can't tell you how disappointed I've been with subordinates who I treated as and thought of as "family", for in the end, everyone acts in their own best interest. As they should.

bearbee said...

Add Diabetic and Divorced to the Diversity Deliberation.

pj (lowercase) said...
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class-factotum said...

Ah, yes, nothing like the boss inviting you over for the mandatory after-hours card game when you would much rather go home and watch TV. Or clean your bathroom. But there it is. Unpaid overtime.

1jpb said...

Could it be that there are people who are intelligent enough to have ideological differences and not personalize them? A lesson you and your little friends here could learn.I'll try to remember that next time I read a comment by Palladian re ZPS.

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

What if instead of being a single woman of a certain age who had her clerks over for cards, she was a single woman of a certain age who blogged?

AJ Lynch said...

Wow - the NYT cleverly slurs Sodomyer much like Ed Rendell mocked Janet Napolitano.

Trooper York said...

"What if instead of being a single woman of a certain age who had her clerks over for cards, she was a single woman of a certain age who blogged?"

Why then she would have a chance to get a boy friend.

Trooper York said...

Of course it would help if she didn't look like Cantinflas.

She needs a little help with her look. Regardless of what side of the plate she is swinging from. Just sayn'

garage mahal said...

Care to explain why Justice Ginsberg is such a close friend of Justice Scalia?.

Because she isn't married to him? It's possible Sotomayor thinks having to roll over and see Scalia every morning is "desperate" compared to the company she keeps currently.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Wow - the NYT cleverly slurs Sodomyer much like Ed Rendell mocked Janet Napolitano.Where?

PatCA said...

Who cares? The grievancemongers. For the tribe to claim her, though, I would like absolute proof of her sexuality! Close questioning, ala Carrie Prejean, please.

I guess the author doesn't count O'Connor, an actual justice and married with children, in her successful justice category.

Paul Zrimsek said...

How many more ridiculous things does Dahlia Lithwick have to say before Dahlia Lithwick saying something ridiculous ceases to be cause for comment?

Cabbage said...

4. Possibly gay? Check! (Upgraded to a 'wonderful'!! qualification if she "comes out".)shouldn't that be "fabulous"?

/fish in a barrel

Trooper York said...

What kind of name is Lithwick anyway. Now Withlick is a name we can all get behind, staights and gays alike.

It can be an appropriate coda to any conversation like "Do you want fries with that."

"Would you like to purchase your lap dance Withlick or not."

Trooper York said...

Of course it would not be appropriate for the creepy skeevy guy selling ice cream cones from the Tasty Freeze truck. You know that Albanian guy or whatever he is with the stained t-shirt and the dirty apron.

"My friend, you wish the chocolate vanilla swirl, Withlick no?"

AJ Lynch said...

JAC:

Follow this for Rendell kerfluffle. Sorry I am too dumb to do links.

http://coverawards.com/tag/campbell-brown/

Marcia said...

Many of you are not familiar with the judge/elbow law clerk relationship. It's not an ordinary boss/subordinate relationship.

Law clerks typically idolize their judges and love doing things with and for them. The judges often see themselves as mentors, even parental figures.

I do think the idolization by law clerks places extra responsibility on the judges to maintain proper boundaries, and some judges do take advantage of their positions (for example, asking law clerks routiniely to run errands for them). Interestingly, even in those situations where I thought the line had been crossed, the law clerks were never bothered. They always thought it was a great privilege to pick up the judge's dry cleaning or whatever.

Anyway, inviting the law clerks over for cards and a couple drinks (assuming that it really is just cards and a couple drinks) is well inside the bounds of normal and proper.

As for the movie, law clerks also love that they can scoot out some afternoon for a movie while their law school classmates are billing hours until 10:00 p.m. The law clerks know their day will come. (This may also explain their enthusiasm for picking up the dry cleaning.)

Christy said...

If, indeed, the clerk - Judge relationship is so special, how can a Sontomayor have any empathy with cases involving the usual approriate workplace relations?

Joan said...

I just thought it was really nice that she socialized with the clerks.

Yeah, just like I thought it was "nice" that my control freak ex-husband met me at my office every evening so we could take the T home together. I was an idiot, but I recovered.

Look, maybe it was nice. It could have been nice if it was a once-in-a-while thing, and she wasn't using her clerks as her only social outlet. But even before I read anyone else's comments, the description dredged up some bad memories.

Bissage said...

Law clerks also love to fetch newspapers, bark at the FedEx man and chase after squirrels.

Windbag said...

Shouldn't we desire impartial, objective justices, who place the law above their personal preferences and identity politics?

garage mahal said...

One that likes to go duck hunting with Joe Biden.

Jeremy said...
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jayne_cobb said...
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Jeremy said...

I'm wondering if she got dressed up for the Harry Potter premier. A pointy black hat to go with her robe and she's all set!

I kid, I kid. But seriously, if it turns out she went to the midnight showing of Wolverine, we would really have to question her judgements.

-The Other Jeremy

rhhardin said...

With a lesbian justice there'd finally be somebody to organize Supreme Court softball games.

Trooper York said...

Seriously Jeremy you should be fair. It is perfectly ok if she wanted to go to the midnight showing of Wolverine dressed like Hugh Jackman. I mean she already has the sideburns so she is half way there.

Trooper York said...

You know that Souter is waiting outside the moviehouse for the first showing of the new Star Trek!

Hey I hear that Spock gives Uhuru the Vulcan Vag pinch in this one.

hdhouse said...

OMG....remembers their favorite drinks...Harry Potter....bury the silver, hide the children!

hdhouse said...

HelenParr said...
Just because you work with someone doesn't mean you have to socialze with them. It seems lonely, yes, but also a manipulation of her power disparity over her clerks. Boss rape."

You are joking with this comment right? When you do and it is on some sort of grey line between tongue in check and just sillystupid please put "JK" so we know you aren't being foolish.

Jeremy said...

Question about the headline: isn't a seemingly-gay Justice, by definition, not an "openly gay Justice"?

-The Other Jeremy

HelenParr said...

When feminists can claim that all sex is rape, I believe I can claim, with the same credibility, that all boss/employee manipulation is akin to rape.

J said...

"Of course it would help if she didn't look like Cantinflas"

You can bust on the gal all you want, but when you start going after Pepe you're getting dangerously close to fightin' words.

I don't care if she's a control freak or into hot girl-on-girl action (who isn't?) as long as she's a strict contstructionist.

Marcia said...

"Law clerks also love to fetch newspapers, bark at the FedEx man and chase after squirrels."

Closer to truth (in many cases) than you probably care to know.

bearbee said...

Shouldn't we desire impartial, objective justices, who place the law above their personal preferences and identity politics?.

Uhm.........Naaaahhh

former law student said...

OMG! I worked for a male lesbian!!!

First, are there any jobs any more where people don't work late?

But I had a boss who invited us over a couple times of year for a back yard bbq -- and he treated us to the premiere of Spiderman. I never would have guessed he was a lesbian though. He had a wife and two kids: one in college and one in high school.

He did not remember if we preferred Coke or Pepsi -- maybe that's the mark of the homosexual.

Jason (the commenter) said...

A woman who surrounds herself with young, paid employees late into the night has a faint air of scandal and desperation about her or, at the very least, of being something short of a fully realized woman.

So she spends all her time dealing with and thinking about the law and legal issues and this somehow disqualifies her for the Supreme Court?

I expect anyone at the top of their field to make sacrifices in their personal lives. Can you imagine someone not hiring an athlete as an NFL quarterback because they haven't been spending enough time hanging out at bars and reading books? Ridiculous!

I also can't get over the phrase "a fully realized woman". From the way the article is written I would assume the authors mean women are expected to both raise a family and have a career; doing just one (being a homemaker or a career-women) is somehow a failure.

Funny thing is, not one, but TWO women wrote the article.

halojones-fan said...

I don't know; remember when everyone thought that Roberts was gay? After all, he's a nice guy who isn't ugly and has a good job, and yet he's still single--he MUST BE GAY, THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION!

bearbee said...

Sonia Sotomayor youtube clip

Cedarford said...

"I don't care if she's a control freak or into hot girl-on-girl action (who isn't?) as long as she's a strict contstructionist."

Thinking of girl-on-girl action, I read that as "strict contortionist".

That might be a plus for America if you conclude the nation is well on the path to being destroyed as a once-great part of Western Civilization and you seek to only watch the Decline&Fall for entertainment.

Two lesbian contortionist Justices on the Court. The strict contortionist "topping" 'natch! Affirmative action bonus points for exotic minority features, not to mention desirable physical handicaps like limb stumps, harelips, or a lesbian contortionist Justice with Tourette's Syndrome.

SteveR said...

After all, he's a nice guy who isn't ugly and has a good job, and yet he's still single...

Don't forget thin and neat.

Jeremy said...

Yeah, Justice Roberts isn't single. Remember his kid doing a little dance during Bush's announcement?

David said...

Blogger HelenParr said...

Just because you work with someone doesn't mean you have to socialze with them. It seems lonely, yes, but also a manipulation of her power disparity over her clerks. Boss rape.
Idiotic. On many levels.

First of all, the entire basis of a relationship between a law clerk and a judge is power disparity. If you don't understand that, clerk, join the Peace Corps.

Second, the clerks are looking for advantage from the power disparity. If they serve the judge well they will (1) learn a lot and (2) have a champion who will help them throughout their life.

Navigating power disadvantage is a crucial life skill. Seems to me this is great practice.

Jeremy said...

What if the lesbian was...Condi?

That would certainly short circuit the whining from many here.

bagoh20 said...

I do sense desperation, but on the part of an author looking for something to write about and choosing the gossip of underlings desperate to pull down their boss.
-
It's all very desperate like men going through a "middle age crisis" which to me always just seemed like having the fun you can finally afford. Or if you are a woman "getting your groove back".

People enjoying themselves is only desperation to those who need to justify having fun. Shouldn't we rather need to justify why we are not enjoying ourselves every day?

Consequently, I don't care who she shares her groove with.

mrs whatsit said...

Oh for God's sake. I hate those tired feminist arguments that start out with "if she were a man they never would have said this." But here I go, I'm about to say it myself, run away if you can't stand any more of this. Here goes: If she were a male judge, a bachelor who took his law clerks out at night for beers or golf or whatever male socialization it is that men do, remembered what sports teams they root for, or played poker with them once a month, that would be totally accepted as hail-fellow-well-met socialization and good mentoring besides. Only because she's female who lives alone -- suspect! highly suspect!! -- does anybody suggest that there's a whiff of desperation about it. Grr.

Okay, I've turned off my hair-trigger feminism alarm now. However, I would like to add that I am a law clerk myself, and when I go out socializing with the judge I work for, which I do sometimes, it's because we enjoy each other's company and we don't ever have time at work to talk about non-work things, so sometimes we get together in a non-work environment so that we can. Furthermore, she knows when my birthday is, and I know when hers is. She knows how I take my coffee. I know how she takes hers. She gave me a great Christmas present. I ordered hers on Ebay. None of this has anything to do with desperation or coercion or "clerk rape", for god's sake. It's because we work extremely hard with difficult material, and adding some fun to the mix here and there helps. That's the beginning and the end of it.

I have no idea whether this woman is a good judge or a smart person or a "bully" (though the kind of person who goes to Harry Potter movies and remembers people's favorite drinks certainly doesn't sound like one.) But trying to create a problem because she's nice to her clerks is just absurd.

HelenParr said...

Second, the clerks are looking for advantage from the power disparity. If they serve the judge well they will (1) learn a lot and (2) have a champion who will help them throughout their life.

O.K. You disagree with the boss rape position. Would you prefer pimp/prostitute?

Methadras said...

"Chris said...

^^ what he/she said. Although after Souter I suspect singles are off the list as unless they are openly gay or widowed."

Well then, looks like Barney Frank is going to need a promotion for a job well done don't you think?

Bissage said...

(1) They say you learn something new every day.

It’s true! I just learned there’s a market out there for judge/law clerk porn.

I guess it would be similar to boss/secretary porn, or teacher/student porn, except all the action would take place after hours in the law library.

(2) JUDGE: Why Jennifer! What are you doing here so late?

CLERK: Working on this memo you asked for.

JUDGE: But that’s not due until next week.

CLERK: I thought you might want it for the weekend.

JUDGE: There might be something else I want for the weekend.

CLERK: May it please the court . . .

[cue sleazy 1970s incidental music.]

Whacca-whacca-chicka-chicka-whacca-whacca-chicca-chicca-whacca-whacca-chicka-chicka . . .

Penny said...

"When feminists can claim that all sex is rape, I believe I can claim, with the same credibility, that all boss/employee manipulation is akin to rape."

Helen, you can claim whatever you wish to claim, free speech and all, but that hardly makes either statement true. Why not just tell us what happened to you that has you thinking in absolutes on this topic? That's more likely to stir up some reasoned dialogue.

Beth said...

OMG! I worked for a male lesbian!!!fls: is he on


this site?

Penny said...

"Navigating power disadvantage is a crucial life skill."

You are right on with this comment, David, and in fact, this is a WHOPPER of a comment. Let me just nibble on some of this lettuce and tomato while also pointing out that navigating a power ADVANTAGE is also a crucial life skill. I don't need any cheese, but a bite of your hamburger to go with my lettuce and tomato would make this meal nearly ideal.

Eric said...

She may (or may not), in fact, be gay. But does any of this qualify her as "openly" gay? I mean, I always thought you had to say something like, oh, I dunno, "I'm gay" to another person to be "openly" gay. Or get caught tapping your foot in an airport bathroom.

hdhouse said...

HelenParr said...
When feminists can claim that all sex is rape, I believe I can claim, with the same credibility, that all boss/employee manipulation is akin to ..."

Are you flat out nuts?

you left out that qualifier to "feminists"...such as "a few", "maybe a handful" or something. It's that kind of blanket generalization which keeps people from reading one word further.

Seriously reconsider such writing. It doesn't do anyone any good.

NKVD said...

While beginning a sentence with a lower case letter is as fresh as e e cummings.

Penny said...

And NKVD is fresher than nkvd?

Or maybe just "fresh" as my nana used to define this word. ;)

David said...

Penny said...
I don't need any cheese, but a bite of your hamburger to go with my lettuce and tomato would make this meal nearly ideal.

Penny, I would love to give you a bite, but the timing is all off.

Lem said...

On second thought.

Maybe the ultra liberal is not such a bad idea.

Too much of a 'good thing' might be just the right thing.

Not because I would savor the justice falling on her face - it is ultimately the country's justice, not just the left or the right.

But Sotomayor may strike just the kind of fear that could awaken an otherwise moribund right.

Short of an awakening, maybe the idea that the left is going too far could create a backlash at the polls. (a good thing for Palin)

Put me in the Sotomayor camp. Assuming men are allowed ;)

AlphaLiberal said...
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AlphaLiberal said...

Wow. You guys are really ripping up Sotomayor. That article was a hack job. A bunch of cowardly anonymous sources.

It's like Animal Farm, the George Orwell book. Where the herd of animals just starts braying the latest line no matter the facts or if it contradicted their last lines.

Get yer thinking right, Annie, and get back in the herd.

mrs whatsit said...

Excuse me, apparently the proper term is "boss rape" rather than "clerk rape" as I remembered it (though frankly, that conjures up for me an image the opposite of the one I believe was intended.)

Either way, my grandfather would have known exactly how to respond: "Horsesh*t, and I tell it to ya!"

NKVD said...

Penny, you should read some history, then get back to me.

You will still be a liberal douche, but do read some, dearie.

TMink said...

SteveR wrote: "Don't forget thin and neat."

NTTIAWWT.

Trey