The Rational Hysterics
Republicans won't beat Sonia Sotomayor by attacking her as too darn human.
Read more from Slate's coverage of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination.
Sotomayor will also draw heat in the coming weeks for a speech she made in 2002 at the University of California at Berkeley. Talking about the effect of race and gender on judicial decision-making, Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." She also said that "the aspiration to impartiality is just that—it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging." That seems a particularly thoughtful observation, in the context of a long and thoughtful meditation on the role of personal experiences in judicial thinking. Sotomayor never pretends to know better than white men, and she doesn't purport to speak for all Latinos or all women. She merely believes that different judges make a difference in judging. And if you strip away all the rage of the identity politics wars, that point is irrefutable.
The angry screeching from the right that Judge Sotomayor is too emotional to fairly apply the law is already starting to sound, well, hysterical. And the fun is only just beginning.
AP Video: Obama Nominates Sotomayor
Correction, May 26, 2009: This article originally mischaracterized Sotomayor as a federal prosecutor. She was a state prosecutor. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photograph of Sonia Sotomayor by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.