June 4, 2009

Does Sotomayor belong on... the North American Supreme Court?

About that senior thesis...


Anthony said...

One thing which is interesting is that Puerto Rican independence has more support among Puerto Rico's the middle class professional class living in New York than it does of people living in Puerto Rico.

It sounds to me like it was some youthful silliness, but she should be asked about it.

traditionalguy said...

That Sonia Girl is at it again. She has been caught empathizing with her native land when a teenager in school. It may soon come out that she still loves her mother, thus disqualifying her since her mother was a well known "Wise Latino Woman". These are Scary times.

KCFleming said...

Come on traditionalguy. She was a senior in college. She was a Puerto Rican nationalist who favored independence, a fringe belief.

She spoke about the 'North American Congress' and the 'mainland Congress' rather than the "U.S. Congress".

Are these odd beliefs still the case or not?

Yes, yes, you believe she'll be appointed and that attacks on her from the right are self-injurious.

But are there no relevant principles at all, besides that she's a she, and latina?
Is pragmatic deference the only worthy goal?

hdhouse said...

I was wondering when referendums on PR independence crossed the clerk's office desk in the SC...just a hunch that it won't pop up during her term.

John said...

Most people don't play close attention to politics. Certain, easy to grasp slogans and incidents have a bad habbit of defining someone. Think Dan Quale failing to spell potatoe or Gerald Ford falling down the airplane stairs. The "magic latina" speech, the Ricci case and now the "North American Congress" are starting to define this woman.

KCFleming said...

"...just a hunch that it won't pop up during her term"

You know of course it isn't the precise topic that's a concern, but the underlying beliefs now revealed that alarms.

bearing said...

I can definitely understand the practice of referring to U.S. citizens not as "Americans" but as "North Americans" (norteamerica├▒os) and using the adjective "North American" rather than "American" to describe something that characterizes the U. S. It's not as precise as it could be (North America usually being seen as including Canada and Mexico) but I get the point: Uruguayans and Ecuadorians and Argentinians are Americans as much as we are, and so "North American" is more precise than "American." And it's easier on the linguistic faculties than a weird construction like "Unitedstatesian" or Frank Lloyd Wright's amusing little coinage "Usonian."

However, it seems a bit precious to substitute "North American" into the name of an institution that contains the words "United States." And it's rather insensitive to Mexicans and Canadians, no?

traditionalguy said...

Pogo...When we are in college, our politics (when we are vaguely aware of them)are supposed to be focused on testing the limits larger than our parents'. (The anti-Viet Nam War movement brought out limit testing from both sides of that dispute). Then after we graduate we discover the real world when we go to work for money for the first time. Thirty years later wisdom finally comes from having seen diverse types of humans interacting under stress in real world situations. Add a in good heart and great social skills, and one can then become a small force for good until that time we all must enter the elderly decline in our lives. Anyway Sonia seems to me like a fine choice. Hopefully after the hearings on TV, differences in cultural backgrounds will not seem scary anymore.

Sixty Grit said...

Pogo - don't point out hdhouse's lack of abstract thinking to him - it makes him forget how to type in English.

Lem said...

The protest rhetoric of that time in DR as I recall – (my father helped release an university student one time) was to use the term Norte Americano (a) as to mean imperialist Yankee – they use them interchangeably. It was anti-american rhetoric 101.

It is evidence that Sotomkayor was influenced by the zeitgeist of that time.

Does that hold to this day? How much has she "grown"?

Cedarford said...

"Sonia Sotomayor is obviously very gifted and able; however, she clouds issues with constant references to her own personal experiences.

This diminishes her work and firmly places her inside the destructive realm of race/class/gender identity politics.

There can be no objectivity and fairness when this mindset is given free rein.

Will the Supreme Court eventually become a place for subjective mini-testimonials before every decision effecting the lives of all Americans?"

I deplore the rise of claims by individuals that their life experience makes them somehow the person with higher moral authority and the better argument.

This focus on the experiential is core to identity politics, but it is making ridiculous inroads into other societal matters inside and outside politics.

1. A letter writer claimed that his "combat experience in 'Nam rice paddies" convinced him that missile defense would never work.
Now, I doubt a rocket scientist would have ended up in the rice paddies 40 years ago, and if they had, that that experience was in any way relevant.

2. We had a job applicant say that she would be a better engineer because she was a woman, her mom had cancer, and two brothers were in jail. When asked why those factors had any bearing...she cited how they made her "more creative in getting winning solutions", and gave her added strength. Asked for specific examples...she sort of failed open.

3. At a school budget meeting, an Indian couple wanted a swimming pool built and said speaking as "people of color" - it was a community obligation. It was a great WTF???? moment.

John said...

This is going to be great at the confirmation hearings. Basically the only way out of it is for her to say that she was a dumb college kid and it was a stupid thing to say. That of course will enrage the nutcases who actually believe this crap.

KCFleming said...

"Thirty years later wisdom finally comes..."

I've been waiting for the evidence of her wisdom, but find instead the same fairly standard left-liberal stances that had animated her dalliance with Puerto Rican nationalists.

In 1999, President Clinton offered to commute the sentences of 16 members of FALN. Puerto Rican Separatists known as Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) had engaged in over 100 terrorist bombings during the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in New York and Chicago. Soon 11 former FALN members were freed.

Their supporters consider the United States an imperialist oppressor, an advocated Puerto Rico's liberation from the US by violent means.

Barack Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder was Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, and defended the FALN pardons before Congress.

So, did Sotomayor know that she was supporting terrorists?

It's no surprise Obama would appoint such a person, given his own connection to leftist terrorist Bill Ayers.

Chase said...

Please stop making fun of our Lord and Savior, Barrack Obama and the Virgin Sonia.

Work hard. The Homeland provides you well with food and housing. Respect the Leadership. Do not bridge dissent. Report those who do not support the Glorious Obama and the Virgin Sonia.

That is all.

Anthony said...

Her Yale Law Review Note seems to take the opposite tack though, calling for statehood, but with seabed rights reserved to the state (and not surrendered to the federal government).


KCFleming said...

Oh, I forgot, all terrorism committed before (what?) 1985 or so is forgiven.

Never mind.

Kylos said...

bearing, you're right that the term American can be construed as somewhat vague, considering the number of nations on the American continents. However, I think the matter is in fact not a problem at all when approached logically, but is rather driven by some sort of imperialist victim complex unfettered by logic.

As an example why calling U.S. citizens Americans is appropriate, note that Americans, Mexicans, Equadorians, etc. are all called by the common name of their country, not some contrived name that manages to squeeze in all parts of their country's official name, i.e. we don't call Mexicans EUMians. In fact, it would be much more confusing to use the tongue-twisting title Unitedstatesian to describe an American since the same could just as well apply to a Mexican.

No, common practice is to use the common name of a country to describe its citizens. Since it is uncommon to refer to someone by their continent of residence, this really adds no confusion in day to day speech regarding US citizens. And in fact, for the occasion when your would like to refer to a resident of the New World by their continent, you use the adjectives North and South to precede American, so there should be no confusion between South Americans and Americans (U.S. citizens).

So, Sotomayor's insistence on using the phrase North American actually is actually a less accurate method of referring to American institutions in an attempt to try and refute American imperialism and hubris. But in the end, it's just silly nonsense. Now, college students are known for silly nonsense, so I don't think it's worth making a big deal about, but it is still silly nonetheless.

traditionalguy said...

C-4 has the latest and greatest anti-confirmation position on Sotomayor. There is a possibility that she is so caught up in her sensitive feelings that she will not be a hard hearted enforcer of the law. Although there is a total lack of such a weakness as shown by her huge body of written opinions to date, you can look at her sensitive personality and paint her as a manchurian cadidate slipping in a good conscience to decisions. Kind of like the Equity Jurisdiction traditions that have required Common law Judges to try to avoid strict "pound of flesh" outcomes in cases at law for over 500 years. What's wrong with that, again?

KCFleming said...

Seriously, does not Sotomayor's support for the same groups that were at the time bombing the US, and later resulted in controversial pardons by Clinton (that Hillary had to sidestep), does not that give you any pause at all?

Kylos said...

Pogo, I haven't read that thesis, and, I presume, you haven't either. But the article seemed to indicate that she was not in favor of Puerto Rican independence at the time she wrote it. It's really hard to draw any conclusions about her opinions on Puerto Rican independence or terrorism in pursuit of it.

Who knows, maybe she initially thought it was a cool cause when she was younger, and then realized it was being promoted by violent thugs and didn't want to be associated with that ideology any more. The point is, unless you can actually find real evidence she willingly and knowingly associated with terrorists I think you're reading way too much into this thesis.

Anonymous said...

Well, Pogo, he only describes himself as a "traditionalguy." For a surprisingly large number fo people, ignoring and/or discounting disdain for the United States (and even actual terrorist acts) from the left is traditional.

KCFleming said...

"I think you're reading way too much into this thesis."

Calling it the 'North American Congress' is telling enough for me. Standard leftist claptrap.

And if the GOP were to have taken a principled stand against FALN, they shouldn't have voted to confirm Holder.

I know we're getting a lefty on the SCOTUS, I just want all the cards on the table. As per Henry Buck, I want all those longstanding lefty interconnections acknowledged, even if we can't do a goddamned thing about it.

Yeah, ignoring the violent past of the left is pretty traditional.

former law student said...

You know of course it isn't the precise topic that's a concern, but the underlying beliefs now revealed that alarms.

True, but I accepted that Sarah Palin had drifted away from her pro-independence beliefs.

does not Sotomayor's support for the same groups that were at the time bombing the US, ... give you any pause at all?

I'm missing something here. The article said the 22 yo Sotomayor favored independence for PR, not that she supported the FALN. You can favor an independent Palestinian state while decrying Hamas.

Other of our ex-Spanish possessions are now independent: the Philippines, Cuba. Wanting PR to join them is not absurd.

Practically speaking, however, enjoying US citizenship without paying US income tax, and without having to learn English is hard to beat. At one point the biggest single source of income for PR was Federal assistance checks. PR likes the status quo.

former law student said...

Oh, and "norteamericano" is obsolete. What we haoles are nowadays is Anglo.

KCFleming said...

"Sotomayor favored independence for PR, not that she supported the FALN."

True. But if one supports an independent Palestinian state, one must know about Hamas' role there. As a liberal intellectual from Puerto Rican lineage, she was surely not so stupid as to be unaware of FALN terrorism.

But that is a pointless vein to tap. It tells me only what I suspected already. Her upbringing and college education and then her law school were all typical lefty training sites, and she swallowed with big gulps.

She repudiated nothing, and speaks no more of those thoughts. But I now understand how she thinks. And it does not bode well for American liberty.

But that would be true of any Obama selection.

Jim said...

fls -

You just can't get Palin off your brain, can you? You have some serious fantasies going on about this woman: one of them being about "pro-independence beliefs" - you're entitled to your own beliefs, but not your own facts. You know this not to be the case, but you repeat the lie anyway. You're a liar and a fool.

You (and Sotomayor's other defenders here on this thread) assume that her support for Puerto Rican independence:

a) did not include support for the FALN.
b) was a youthful "dalliance" rather than a belief she still holds.

You have absolutely zero FACTS (you know those pesky things you seem to have no familiarity with?) to back up either assertion. She has never renounced her separatist beliefs, so asking questions about the FALN, if she still believes in Puerto Rican separatism, why she refused to refer to Congress as the U.S. Congress, etc. are perfectly valid lines of questioning before she is elevated to the highest court in the land.

At the very least, the American public deserves to hear her answers to those questions even if you've already decided that she's qualified despite the fact that she may still very well feel the way she did at 22.

We already know her feelings about appropriate jurisprudence evolved from feeling free to express only sexist attitudes in 1994 to extolling both racist (or, at the very least, racialist if you prefer the softer version) and sexist attitudes in 2001. Both of those alone are reasons to disqualify her from the bench, and Obama himself has said that ideology is sufficient reason to deny her a seat on the court. So let's find out what her ideology really is by, you know, actually asking her questions rather just relying on your totally made-up version of reality in which you already have answers for questions which haven't even been asked yet.

Kylos said...

I don't often agree with FLS, but, really, Pogo, Jim, Henry, you're insinuating Sotomayor terrorist and separatist ties with evidence just as flimsy as was used to claim Palin was a separatist. This game is old. Get a better argument.

former law student said...

you're entitled to your own beliefs, but not your own facts

No shit. Even the vice-chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party thought Palin had been a member. Here's a recording of Dexter Clark's talk given in October 2007 (Sarah's membership is discussed around the six minute point.)


I see his wife back-pedaled when the story came out. That's fine, and totally understandable.

You (and Sotomayor's other defenders here on this thread) assume that her support for Puerto Rican independence:

a) did not include support for the FALN.

Yes, in the absence of evidence -- at least as strong evidence as the vice-chair of the FALN saying she was a supporter.

b) was a youthful "dalliance" rather than a belief she still holds... She has never renounced her separatist beliefs

Has Sarah Palin formally renounced her separatist beliefs? In, say, a formal ceremony of renunciation?

You have absolutely zero FACTS (you know those pesky things you seem to have no familiarity with?) to back up either assertion.

Let's see how this "proving a negative" works: Just as I assumed that Sotomayor's support for PR independence did not include support for the FALN, I also assumed that Jim's sex life did not include unnatural acts with farm animals. But just as I had no facts to back up my assumption about Sonia, so do I lack facts to back up my assumption about Jim. So I must conclude that Jim has enjoyed a bout of bestiality now and again.

KCFleming said...

I am not insinuating Sotomayor has terrorist ties, but point out that she sympathized with the PR nationalists, the very same terrorists that Clinton pardoned. And she used terms that indicated illegitimacy for using "U.S." And she spoke at a La RAZA conference, the same group that has funded MeCHA, which is known to have violent separatist actions even today, and used her "wise Latina" words for that crowd.

Not a big stretch to wonder how these beliefs might affect her thinking about the US Constitution.

She may not have known about FALN, which I doubt, but she must have known about MeCHA.
If she didn't I question her judgment.
If she did, I question her judgment.

But I know she will be appointed, so I just want supporters to admit this is the kind of person the left wants on the highest court.

KCFleming said...

fls is more concerned about Plain's separatist leanings than Sotomayor's.

Certainly not the principle.

traditionalguy said...

Henry Buck: The tradition of respecting a Federal Judge from New York City who has an exemplary record comes as naturally to me as respecting a Sarah Palin who has a good record as a Governor. My traditions include a respect for a legitimate authority that has class and courage. I realize that those want-a be John Birchers have out paced me in the courage to shoot first and ask questions later. Why not reserve your judgement until she is questioned in the Senate hearings?

former law student said...

Pogo pogo pogo.

Time to check your facts.

First, not all "La Razas" are the same. The Boalt symposium the "wise Latina" spoke at was cosponsored by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (i.e. the Hispanic-oriented law journal) and the La Raza Law Students Association (i.e. the Hispanic law students at Berkeley). All of the Northern California members of the Hispanic National Bar Association have "La Raza" in their name.

And she spoke at a La RAZA conference, the same group that has funded MeCHA, which is known to have violent separatist actions even today, and used her "wise Latina" words for that crowd.


Note: Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by President Obama on May 26, 2009, to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, delivered this talk on Oct. 26, 2001, as the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture. She spoke at a UC Berkeley School of Law symposium titled "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation." The symposium was co-hosted by the La Raza Law Journal, the Berkeley La Raza Law Students Association, the Boalt Hall Center for Social Justice, and the Center for Latino Policy Research. The text below is from the archives of the La Raza Law Journal.

So she spoke at a journal symposium, and her talk found its way into the symposium issue of the journal.

But Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza, and I believe her motives for joining it should be probed.

she sympathized with the PR nationalists

She sympathized with their end, but I don't see evidence she sympathized with the means they chose.

fls is more concerned about Plain's separatist leanings than Sotomayor's.

I don't care either way. But, for those who do care: The links are stronger between Palin and separatism (closer association to a political party, made when she was a mature wife and mother) than between Sotomayor and separatism (approval of goal, but no association with party, made when she was a college student).

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

Don't we all write silly things in our senior theses? Mine took potshots at President Bush in the introduction (18 months before I would proudly and enthusiastically vote for his re-election).

If you have a good advisor, you'll get admonished to take that stuff out because it tends to date the text. If you're stubborn, you'll ignore said advisor.

What we learn from the Sotomayor senior thesis is that she was a fairly militant lefty when she graduated from college.

That's nothing new.

Anonymous said...

Raising questions concerning the charachter of a potential Supreme Court Justice is not "shooting first," and you are not simply "reserving judgment" you are mischarachterizing and ignoring those questions and implications arising from Judge Sotomayor's own statements.

Her judicial record as well, raises questions. For me, her attempt to bury the Ricci case is a big warning flag. (And if you don't think there were oddities in how that was handled by Sotomayor's panel, then you haven't read Judge Cabranes dissent from denial of rehearing en banc.)

I don't know what you define as class (I'm pretty sure Alger Hiss was a classy guy, though). People with "class and courage" often have a view of this country, its citizens, and the proper relationship between them that I vehemently oppose. They expect deference, and you may be willing to defer, but I am not.

former law student said...

For me, her attempt to bury the Ricci case is a big warning flag.

I, too, am suspicious whenever a "wise Latina" judge agrees with three white judges. This indicates a disturbing tendency towards groupthink and unanimity.

KCFleming said...

"But Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza, and I believe her motives for joining it should be probed.

What's the big deal?
A future member of the SCOTUS belongs to a race-based organization that has sponsored a separatist wing?
So what?

former law student said...

What's the big deal?

pogo, I admitted you had a point.

There should be feasting, and dancing in the streets.

KCFleming said...

Hard to tell when reasonableness has entered the room sometimes.


I can't dance.
And I already had lunch so....

traditionalguy said...

Henry Buck: I never knew who Alger Hiss was, although they say that he was an agent of the USSR. So are you really in fear of RED SONIA? In wrestling terms you are "riding high" with that story.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you can call yourself "traditionalguy" when you don't have the slightest grasp of history. What "tradition" do you adhere to, and do you understand its foundations and the challenges it has faced over the years?

I was not implying that Sotomayor was a communist (another straw man for you to set up and knock down). You wrote that you respect "class," and I was merely pointing out that people with "class" (as well as people without class) can be working against what I value. What I, and others are trying to figure out is what values Sotomayor will bring to the Supreme Court.

traditionalguy said...

Seriously Henry...The class I speak of is careful attention to courtesy and good manners even when confronted by opposition, just like George Washington used so successfully. Add to that the attitude of Andrew Jackson who never feared a fight, but was courteous to all he needed to be a good President and you have the Tradition of politics that southerners find honorable. In the case of Sotomayor I am emptheticall acting on experiences with people in the legal profession. I don't know her yet and neither do you. So await the facts. The John Birch reference is to those who never believe a fact that doesn't fit into their special insight into world conspiracy. It is a terrible thing to see their minds lost to a cult of mind control. They are usually very smart people otherwise. The Republicans can come back if they will support Palin and Romney in either order. My instincts are favorable to this nominee as a true moderate. Her role seems to be to cement Hispanic support by using her as a target for over the top Conservative attacks, but I am not always right.

MadisonMan said...

If you are in a class in Princeton -- I think that's where she went -- and you are going for an A, then this is the kind of stuff you would have to write.