Opinion

Commentary: Discussions of Sotomayor's qualifications too much about ethnicity

On Tuesday, columnist Bill Ferguson wrote: "It really is too bad that we can't have a real discussion on Judge (Sonia) Sotomayor's qualifications in the midst of all of this talk about race and gender. Is she one of the finest legal minds in the country? Does she have a reputation for writing groundbreaking, well thought-out opinions? Is she respected in the legal community as one of the best at her profession?

"From what I can tell, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding 'no.' Judge Sotomayor seems like a fine person, and she is a real American success story. But if you threw her resume in a pile with the most respected 100 judges in the country and blacked out the information about their race and gender, do you think the president would have picked her name based solely on her qualifications? It seems very unlikely."

Bill obviously thinks Judge Sotomayor is an affirmative action pick. I ask, just what does a person of color, and a woman, have to do in order to be deemed qualified in the eyes of white male?

Graduating summa cum laude from Princeton doesn't cut it for Bill. Being editor of the Yale Law Journal holds no sway, even though that's where justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas cut their law school teeth. Might I add there is only one justice, John Paul Stevens (Northwestern University School of Law), who didn't attend either Harvard or Yale law schools.

Being an assistant district attorney in New York doesn't help Sotomayor rise above accusations of being an affirmative action hire, neither does her appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, by none other than Bush 41.

Was she an affirmative action nominee then?

I hope Bill doesn't hold her appointment to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton against her.

How about her jurisprudence?

Sotomayor, according to The New York Times, has published 83 major opinions that have been cited by other courts 703 times. Her opinions have been cited by law reviews 396 times. Other courts and law reviews don't refer to opinions if they don't hold water. Still, I'm not qualified to scrutinize her jurisprudence. The Senate, which is full of lawyers, have that job. But I must ask Bill again: When does a woman and a minority have the necessary qualifications in the eye of a white male?

Here's Bill's problem. He sees Sotomayor only as a Hispanic and a woman. Whatever else she is doesn't count.

To read the complete column, visit www.macon.com.

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