Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Supreme Court: No White Men Need Apply

Pres. Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court reiterates the role of racism and sexism in our political process. Frankly, I know too little about her decisions on the bench to predict whether she will be a fit Justice. Her liberal leanings as reported in the press reveal only the stance one would expect the current president to promote.

It strikes me, however, that Judge Sotomayor would not have been selected were she not female. In fact, she likely would not have been chosen if she were not Latina. In the days before the announcement, three women's names were offered by pundits, and we heard repeatedly that the president sought to appoint a woman to the bench. In other words, white men--the vast majority of jurists--need not apply.

A search for the best and most experienced mind in the nation was not conducted; the gray matter qualified for this position had to fit neatly in the skull of a woman, ideally wrapped in skin with a hue that could be called "brown."

This comes as no surprise, given that President Obama himself sailed into office based far more on his race than his meager experience, or on any specific plans to extricate our nation from its problems. Would the same person, with the same skills and experience, have been nominated, let alone elected, were he white? Given the prominence of gender and race in electing and appointing, our nation has far to go to embrace Martin Luther King's dream of a society that ignores color of skin, and focuses instead on content of character.

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