Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Sam Smith

Like any good lawyer, Sonia Sotomayor can take either side of a case - even when it's about something she said. Thus she excused her remark that "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion" than a white male as a play on words that fell flat. She added: "It was bad because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case, but that's clearly not what I do as a judge."

To a writer who is not a lawyer this is pure crap. On the other hand, it means she will get along quite well in Washington because as a wise lawyer with the richness of her experiences she knows how to speak in tongues.

After all, any potential justice who can get headlines around the country because she claims to believe in "fidelity to the law" doesn't have much to worry about. There was a happier time when that was taken for granted.

The truth is that Sotomayer - except for her ethnicity - is an absolutely mundane, even boring, centrist judge from whom no surprises should be expected. Like her appointer, she has been elevated to sanctified status simply because the elite - many decades late - decided it was okay to have someone of her background in such a high position. And she seemed safe.

She has thus benefited from a form of atomized affirmative action that fools a lot of people into thinking there's been a real change.

But as the cops say, that's it, folks. You can leave now. Clear the area. There's no story here.