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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Kathleen Parker calls out GOP sexism re Sotomayor

While reading a pundit round-up this morning, I happened to stray from a Eugene Robinson link to Kathleen Parker’s take on the questioning of Sonia Sotomayor: The GOP’s Sotomayor Sinkhole.

I don’t usually read her.  I’ve been glued to discussion of Sotomayor, and following closely the racism in the questioning by Republicans, and probable impact of their biases on Latinos nationwide, but her piece this morning caused me to reflect on how certain Republican and Independent women may have viewed the proceedings from the perspective of gender.

She opens:

Followers of Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings were witness to a now-familiar phenomenon. Women are treated differently than men in such settings.

To wit: Questions posed to Sotomayor about her temperament — is she a bully? — probably wouldn’t be posed to a similarly qualified man.

Judicial temperament is a legitimate concern, of course. But watching Sotomayor take questions about her moods from the nearly all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, one couldn’t help wondering how those same fellows would hold up under similar scrutiny while a roomful of women took aim at their . . . fortitude. Obviously, we’re talking about Republican chaps.

Parker, like many others saw clearly that the obsession with a few remarks culled from a few speeches made over the years was bogus.

But a few random comments extricated from the contexts of time and place, not to mention audience, is evidence unbecoming a fair judge in assessing another’s character and body of work.

More troubling were questions based on anonymous hearsay aimed at Sotomayor’s bench personality. Here’s what women hear when men ask a female candidate about her temperament: “Are you really the bitch everybody says you are?”

Parker also cover’s “race” or actually ethnicity since Puerto Ricans are not “a race” but a nationality.

Senators also hammered Sotomayor about her ethnic identification and whether she could rule fairly without undue influence from her gender or political preferences. Wait, let me guess, you’re white guys! Are we to infer that men of European descent are never unduly influenced by their own ethnicity, gender or political preferences? Can anyone affirm this assertion with a straight face?

When your party looks like a Wonder Bread convention during flu season, picking on ethnic identity and sex seems like an un-brilliant way to proceed. Yet, these same gentlemen don’t understand how Sotomayor could have expressed the thought that she, as a Latina, might be able to reach a wiser decision than a white man?

Much emphasis has been placed on the ceiling breaking historic nature of Sotomayor being a Latina.  We must not forget that she will be only the 3rd woman to join the court when she ascends to that position. Given the health of Justice Ginsburg, she may be the only woman on the Court.

I don’t forget that women have only had the vote nationally since August 26, 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.

Personally, I would like to see President Obama address that, in his future recommendations to the Court.



  1. anna shane

    what women experience once a month, and men experience all the time.  Or the moonlighting joke, ums, ugly mood swings although if you’re always ugly, I guess that doesn’t mean swings; anyone think dick cheney?  

    I had a different take on the meltdown remark though, I didn’t think he was talking about her moods, but if something came up about her that he noted isn’t conceivable.  That guy admitted it’s about ideology, and not about anything personal, and that she’d be confirmed. I found that remark rather refreshing.  


    I think bringing diversity involves looking for someone who’s both qualified for and interested in the job who is among an under-represented ethnic group.  If none are found then the search should widened to other ethnic groups, the qualifications shouldn’t be lowered.

  3. alyssa chaos

    this past week.

    I was particularly disturbed by Sen. Kyl’s questioning. And by ‘disturbed’ I mean pissed off. He was a jerk.

    Kyl cited multiple quotes from a prior speech Sotomayor made addressing whether ethnicity and gender affects perception and decisions in regards to cases.

    In reality our backgrounds do make a difference. We all interpret and perceive things differently. Everyone brings something different to the table, thats why there isnt one dude on the court by himself. Senator Kyl’s questions were out of touch with reality and common sense.

    +We would like to think that humanity can be shed when a person puts on a robe, that is impossible.

    The one re-occurring theme during the hearings is that ethnicity=bias, thats what it sounds like.

    Just gotta keep reminding myself that its all for show.

  4. vcalzone

    Why watch a ballgame between the Dodgers and the Padres? You know what the outcome is going to be, and even if there is a minor upset, it won’t matter in any overall timetable.

    BUT… Sotomayor’s gender helped her with the racism arguments. It would have stuck more with the general public against a man. So it was a positive as much as a negative. Still sexism, but not all to her disadvantage.

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