Daily Archives: July 14, 2009

Alito: ‘I have to think about people in my own family’ in decision-making

Sexy brainiac blogger Glenn Greenwald has had some insightful things to say about Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation process.

The best that most bloggers can do, in my estimation, is to make you think of something in a new light, to present an angle that the mainstream media are not presenting; most bloggers can’t act as news gatherers because most of them, myself included, don’t have the resources.

However, research via the Internet is easy enough, and I’m surprised that in all of the discussions of Sotomayor that I have seen on the Internet thus far, no one has bothered to include the latest photographic group portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court, which shows that seven of the nine justices (including the recently retired Justice David Souter, whom Sotomayor will replace) are white men. That one picture, which is whiter than a Repugnican National Convention, speaks thousands of words, methinks.

Here’s what you’re also not seeing in the mainstream media’s coverage of Sotomayor: 

In one recent post, Greenwald reminds us that Sotomayor’s appeals-court ruling affirming affirmative action — out of which the Repugnicans have been trying to make a lot of political hay for the Joe the Plumber set — was not really a minority opinion (bad pun fully intended). Writes Greenwald:

In light of today’s [U.S. Supreme Court] ruling, it’s a bit difficult — actually, impossible — for a rational person to argue that Sotomayor’s Ricci decision places her outside the judicial mainstream when: (a) she was affirming the decision of the federal district court judge; (b) she was joined in her decision by the two other Second Circuit judges who, along with her, comprised a unanimous panel; (c) a majority of Second Circuit judges refused to reverse that panel’s ruling; and now: (d) four out of the nine Supreme Court Justices — including the [one] she is to replace — agree with her.

Put another way, 11 out of the 21 federal judges to rule on Ricci ruled as Sotomayor did.  It’s perfectly reasonable to argue that she ruled erroneously, but it’s definitively unreasonable to claim that her Ricci ruling places her on some sort of judicial fringe.

What I like even more is this nugget of information from Greenwald (links and emphases are his):

At his Senate confirmation hearing, [George W. Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Samuel] Alito used his opening statement to emphasize how his experience as an Italian-American influences his judicial decision-making (video [and full transcript] here):

“But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, ‘You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country….

“When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.”

Greenwald comments:

Did Alito’s Italian-American ethnic background cause him to cast his vote in favor of the Italian-American [firefighter] plaintiffs [in the Ricci case]?  Has anyone raised that question? 

Given that he himself said that he “do[es] take that into account” — and given that Sonia Sotomayor spent six straight hours today being accused by GOP senators and Fox News commentators of allowing her Puerto Rican heritage to lead her to discriminate against white litigants — why isn’t that question being asked about Alito’s vote in Ricci?

As I asked yesterday:

When is the last time that a white male nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court was admonished against allowing his whiteness or his maleness or his “personal background” influence his rulings?

So I’m exceedingly glad that Greenwald provided a specific instance in which a white male nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly stated that his personal background influences his rulings and yet he wasn’t called to the carpet for this as Sotomayor has been called to the carpet for having the gall to be a — gasp! — Latina.

Racism, thy name is Repugnican.

Misogyny, you too.

Hypocrisy: Ditto.

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