Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Justice Sotomayor

BREAKING NEWS, it says everywhere. President Obama is going to nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to serve on the United States Supreme Court. This is a marvelous choice -- not because she's a woman, and not only because she's Latina, but because of other aspects of who she is.

Judge Sotomayor grew up very poor in the Bronx. She has had diabetes since age 8, and was raised alone by her mother from age 9 on. She grew up to excel her way through Princeton and Yale Law School, and she has served on the Second Circuit with distinction. Although I have not had the privilege of arguing before her, she is, by reputation, a solid jurist, and her written opinions are intelligent and fair.

I could be excited at the prospect of a second woman on the Court, and the first Latina. But I'm more excited by the facts that she has battled chronic illness, and that she knows what it's like to have to fight for everything you achieve. President Obama said he wanted to choose someone with empathy. Coming from rough and tumble beginnings creates either a fierce temper or empathy (or maybe a little of both). A Justice who did not get where she is based solely on grades she earned in school -- a Justice who has overcome obstacles like poverty and illness, along with the need to excel in school and work -- will have empathy. Or so I hope.

I have been watching President Obama from a place of hope. I have hoped he would manage our economic crisis. I have hoped that he would get us out of Iraq and close Guantanamo. I have hoped that he would lead us to meaningful health care reform. The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court helps me to believe that my hope was not misplaced. Jennifer


  1. I was reading the paper this morning and my jaw hit the ground when I read this letter to the editor: http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jul/13/mz1e13letter20289-letters/?uniontrib
    "The conservative opposition has so far focused on her decision in the Ricci v. DeStefano reverse discrimination case. However, as a physician, I believe that Judge Sonia Sotomayor's health is the real reason why she may be unqualified to fill a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court. She has been a 50-year type 1 diabetic. She has already survived her actuarially predicted life span. The general prognosis includes a much higher risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and dementia. These and other tendencies challenge calm judicial deliberation by a healthy mind over a lifetime.
    Examine the candidate's judicial philosophy. She may satisfactorily rebuff all challenges. Do not, however, overlook the implications of her diabetic history. It is not discriminatory to fully evaluate what a 50-year history of type 1 diabetes may mean to the judicial sanctum of the Supreme Court."

    I'm PISSED. This needs a rebuttal. How can anyone say, much less write a letter to the editor that a persons chronic illness is a good enough reason that they can't sit on the Supreme Court? Never thought I'd be very good at activism because I tend to just open my mouth to shove the other foot in, but this needs to be addressed. Just unbelievable.

  2. Thanks, Kathy. I just wrote a letter to the editor expressing my outrage. Perhaps this doctor is a veterinarian. However, I wouldn't even take my cat to him. Jennifer