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.
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.