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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maria....errr Sonia Sotomayor: Nuyorican on the Bench

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Well, well, well. President Barack Obama has gone and done it now. He has nominated a Nuyorican, federal appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor, to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some Republicans and Conservatives seem to be almost afraid of this lady. I wonder why?

Is it because:

-- She came up in a housing project in the Bronx?
-- She's a woman?
-- She seems to have lots of compassion?
-- Her family comes from Puerto Rico?
-- She's really intelligent?
-- She knows the law?

And why, oh why did Mike Huckabee call this woman by the wrong name when he released a statement about her? Here's what Huckabee said:

The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric.

What kind of a slip was this? Did Huckabee all of a sudden confuse Ms. Sotomayor with the Maria from West Side Story? Does Huckabee think all Latina women should be referred to as Maria, much like the way some people used to refer to black women as "mammy?" What's that all about?

In Huckabee's statement about Sotomayor's nomination he implied that judges should apply the law without "personal emotion." But what human being could make decisions about the highly crucial and sometimes traumatic decisions that Supreme Court judges hand down, without using their own lens of experience and personal beliefs?

What woman who has had an abortion wouldn't be affected by that decision if writing a Supreme Court decision regarding abortions? What man who has been discriminated against in countless employment situations wouldn't use that experience when voting on an Affirmative Action case? We all use all of our experiences in life decisions everyday. Don't we? Or am I missing something here? Are there people out there who robotically talk, take action, and make decisions without "personal emotion?"

I like what Yubanet.com wrote about Sotomayor's commitment to community:

Judge Sotomayor is deeply committed to her family, to her co-workers, and to her community. Judge Sotomayor is a doting aunt to her brother Juan's three children and an attentive godmother to five more. She still speaks to her mother, who now lives in Florida, every day. At the courthouse, Judge Sotomayor helped found the collegiality committee to foster stronger personal relationships among members of the court. Seizing an opportunity to lead others on the path to success, she recruited judges to join her in inviting young women to the courthouse on Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and mentors young students from troubled neighborhoods Her favorite project, however, is the Development School for Youth program, which sponsors workshops for inner city high school students. Every semester, approximately 70 students attend 16 weekly workshops that are designed to teach them how to function in a work setting. The workshop leaders include investment bankers, corporate executives and Judge Sotomayor, who conducts a workshop on the law for 25 to 35 students. She uses as her vehicle the trial of Goldilocks and recruits six lawyers to help her. The students play various roles, including the parts of the prosecutor, the defense attorney, Goldilocks and the jurors, and in the process they get to experience openings, closings, direct and cross-examinations. In addition to the workshop experience, each student is offered a summer job by one of the corporate sponsors. The experience is rewarding for the lawyers and exciting for the students, commented Judge Sotomayor, as "it opens up possibilities that the students never dreamed of before." [Federal Bar Council News, Sept./Oct./Nov. 2005, p.20] This is one of many ways that Judge Sotomayor gives back to her community and inspires young people to achieve their dreams.

I'm excited about the perspective that this Latina woman, who was raised in a housing project in the Bronx by a single mother, will bring to the Supreme Court. I hope she flies through the confirmation hearings and sits on the bench by August. Let's all strap on our seatbelts for an exhilarating ride!

Bring it on Sonia!

2 comments:

myabubakar said...

quite a blog u got here.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Myabubakar,
Thanks. I hope you'll come back to it.
Your blog looks very intriguing. I'm planning to take some time to check it out.
Peace,
Alicia