Sotomayor is still a mystery to me. Trying to find the real Sotomayor is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. To many in my community, the coverage from the media and the partisan “talking heads” is terribly confusing. We all know pundits spin facts to fit their arguments. In this case, it has been taken to another level. I hear or read something about Sotomayor and then find myself searching for the facts. Each side wants to paint their own portrait of her with carefully chosen and manipulated information. Trying to find unbiased coverage is nearly impossible. Even those of us who dig enough to find the facts are having a hard time predicting how she will influence the court because her rulings are not consistently right or left. She seems left on some decisions and right on others making it difficult to pinpoint what she will do with the freedom and power given to a Supreme Court Justice.
I found the initial response to her nomination quite fascinating. Rush Limbaugh painted her as a “Far-left liberal racist”. The same night, Rachael Maddow proclaimed Sotomayor would not make a difference to the overall philosophy of the court as it stands. Ms. Maddow seemed disappointed that Obama did not pick someone who was more to the left. My conclusion is as follows: If the right says she is too left and the left says she is not left enough, it must mean Sotomayor is a moderate that leans to the left.
Sotomayor’s major blunder has been the infamous “wise Latina” remark back in 2001. Most of the people in my community, Republican and Democrat, are taking about this remark more than her judicial record. Yesterday, at lunch I had a very lively discussion with a friend about the explanation Sotomayor gave for this remark. Needless to say, I have found no one who believes her statement was simply meant to inspire the disadvantaged or was a play on a previous Sandra Day O’Conner quote. This morning, I received an e-mail where 5 words from the statement were changed. It read: “I would hope that a wise White man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn’t lived that life.” It was signed as a quote from Rush Limbaugh. Although the e-mail was making fun of Limbaugh, it does point out serious questions about the remark and its intent. Will Sotomayor use the Supreme Court as a tool for social justice? Will her decisions reflect partiality toward one ethnic group? At a time when our local community is very concerned with immigration issues and the impact of illegal immigration, this quote has been the single most important factor in the opinion people have about Sotomayor. It is true, we are far from a border town, but Cleveland, Tennessee has seen a tremendous influx of immigrants in the past few years. The carpet factories in Northwest Georgia are well known for their use of cheap immigrant labor. As the economy has forced these companies to shut their doors or make drastic cuts, our community has seen many immigrants relocate in our area. Just a few months ago, a personal friend was involved in a car accident caused by an illegal immigrant driving on the wrong side of the road. The immigrant had no ID and no insurance. The policeman gathered all the information he could from the individual, but was forced to let him go. Local law enforcement is instructed not to incarcerate anyone who could possibly be under the age of 18. The car was registered to an individual that was never found. I believe the people in my community do not fault immigrants for wanting a better life, but fault our government for ignoring the issue. Yes, there is a difference of opinion on what the correct solution should be- full amnesty to deportation and everything in between- but it is an issue on everyone’s mind.
With the exception of a huge bombshell, Sotomayor will become a Supreme Court Justice. Republicans cannot stop it. Confirmation hearings are always politically fueled and this one is not an exception. It will be her judicial decisions on the Court that will undoubtedly make her a hero to some and a villain to others. Is she an ideal candidate for conservatives? Absolutely not. Is she the ideal candidate for liberals? Absolutely not. A good friend of mine and a self proclaimed "far left liberal", asked "Why did Obama not pick someone more to the left while he has the power to get them confirmed?" I thought it was a good point. I dare say there must have been a "back room" Republican meeting where someone said aloud “It could have been much worse.”