Judge Sotomayor

I just have to get my two cents’ worth in about Judge Sotomayor and her confirmation hearings. Not only is she accomplished and smart, but she’s also cool, calm, and collected. She has the kind of mind and training that thoroughly qualifies her for this high office. The number one concern that I’ve heard voiced over and over and over again (yes, that many times) is that she just might let her Hispanic (make that Latina) background interfere with her decision making.

Get real, folks. Don’t you think the WASP background of much of the current Supreme Court continues to influence decision making? Do you hear many concerns about how a white male mentality might prejudice someone when interpreting the law? Um, maybe some but not that much. I’m fully aware that the Court is comprised of both genders and other races now. I haven’t been asleep all these years. It’s just that there seems to be such a big hullabaloo being made over this particular lady’s qualifications. One columnist even characterized the proceedings as “blood sport.” Gee whiz.

We all see the world as we are, not as it really is…or so says Anais Nin, and I believe that to be true. At the same time, fortunately for us, Judge Sotomayor is experienced, savvy, and smart enough to earnestly see beyond some of the prejudiced types of thinking that many of us “regular” people are guilty of. The very fact that people are so much up in arms demonstrates their own narrow-mindedness…perhaps even out and out bigotry. It’s just that they can’t see it.

Here’s an example. Several years ago, my employer held cultural diversity training for its employees on a yearly basis, and in the midst of one such session, a middle-aged white guy got into some heavy sighing and rude eye rolling. Clearly annoyed that he had to attend such a meeting, he let his displeasure be known. One of the facilitators asked him if he had something he’d like to share, and this is pretty much verbatim what his response was. “Yeah, I got a problem. I got a problem with being here listening to this silly stuff when I could be doing my job instead of sitting around looking at movies and doing useless  activities…or whatever you call that stuff we have to do.”

In exasperation, he then said, “Look, I wake up every morning, get dressed, and drive to work. I never think about the fact that I’m a white guy. That’s stupid to say that people actually think about gender or race or even age on a continuing basis.” Little did he know that he had fallen right into the facilitator’s hands. After a few moments of silence, she said, “Exactly. You are a white male. It’s your world, and you’ve never been denied admittance to anything or anywhere because of your gender or race.”

That might not have been the best example in the world, but it’s one that has stuck with me for 15 years or more. And you know, I feel certain that it stayed with that middle-aged white guy, an Air Force retiree who had waltzed right into another position that might not have been even offered to a woman, a person of color, or a Buddhist. In fact, I doubt if they’d even have been considered for an interview.

Back to the judge. Yes, she’s a woman of Hispanic heritage but she’s no different from the other judges in that they all have unique backgrounds that make them the people they are and influence the decisions they make. All of the justices differ from us, however, in that they’re acutely aware of these forces and make a conscientious effort to “rise above them” in defending the law of the land.

Ah, I feel much better now.