29 May 2009
Last Updated on 24 February 2011
Sonia Sotomayor Does Not Represent the Hispanic Community
Republicans Should Oppose the Supreme Court Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor
In the past week or so, there has been a big ruckus over Supreme Court Judicial Nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The controversy is somewhat deserved and is based on various court decisions and public speeches
made in the past few years. It is clear that Sotomayor presents a tactical problem for Republicans in at least two ways. First, Republicans lack the strategic power and political resolve to stage a sustainable filibuster. And second, opposing the first female Hispanic Supreme Court Justice may produce some unintended political drawbacks. In the past decade, Republicans appear to have fallen out of favor with the Hispanic community; so opposing Sotomayor will provide Democrats yet another political wedge to add to their existing arsenal of racial exploitation.
There are two ways that Republicans can successfully oppose the judicial nomination of Sotomayor. First, they must show that although Sotomayor is a Latina with real ethnic experiences, she does not embody the core values of the Hispanic community. This case can be made substantively based upon past court decisions, but should be presented by a Hispanic to avoid fallacious charges of racism. And second, they must show that Sotomayor is not qualified for Supreme Court Justice based upon the backwardness of her recent comments. This essay will attempt to develop the beginnings of the first point only.
Sonia Sotomayor Defies Hispanic Values in Ricci v. DeStefano
In Ricci V. DeStefano
, Judge Sotomayor ruled against white firefighters of New Haven
and discarded the results of a promotional exam because no black applicants had successfully weathered the promotional process. New Haven City originally tossed the exam stating it had a “disparate impact” on minorities
and feared that black firefighters might sue the city for violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Ironically, a decision intended to circumvent a lawsuit directly resulted in a lawsuit anyway.
Frank Ricci and a group of white firefighters filed a lawsuit against the city on the charge of reverse discrimination. According to them, they had studied and prepared for the promotional exam with due diligence and were denied promotional privileges legally protected by their bargaining agreement. In effect, they were punished because black applicants didn’t pass the testing process.
Notable among the group of firefighters was Ben Vargas, a Hispanic who passed his exam and was eligible for promotion, but was also denied the advancement. Vargas stated,
“The fire isn’t going to discriminate against a person whether he’s black, white, or Hispanic, it’s going to treat that person the same way.”
Like many professions, firefighting requires a certain skill set. A firefighter must have the strength, skill, and awareness to avoid getting killed in a burning building. A raging fire won’t make an exception because the person happens to be black. Political correctness could very well get a fire company killed if a promotion is granted to anyone on the basis of quota rather than skill.
According to Slate Magazine, Sotomayor rejected the promotional exam because it needlessly screened out “underrepresented groups.” Slate’s theory goes as follows: racial discrimination “has locked minorities into poor neighborhoods with failing schools for generations” and as a result, blacks don’t perform as well on written exams compared to other races.
If written tests are inherently discriminatory toward the poor, then how did eight Hispanics and three blacks manage to pass the promotional exam? The fallacy of such reasoning is clearer when applied to other professions. What if a black medical student failed to finish the long and fatiguing hours of his residency? Should he get his Doctor of Medicine because his parents were too poor to instill a hard work ethic and a personal devotion to medicine?
Sotomayor Ignores the Values of Hard Work and Discipline Inherent to the Hispanic Culture
When Hispanic parents immigrate to the United States, they virtually break their backs trying to provide a life of prosperity for their family. This reminds me of the Hispanic immigrant in Wisconsin who broke his finger while working for a contractor. When the doctor told him he would not be able to use his hand for a few weeks, he told the doctor to remove his finger so he could return to work. For Sonia Sotomayor to discount written tests because others had failed to prepare themselves undermines values integral to the Hispanic culture. Ben Vargas was correct in his frustration with Sotomayor’s judicial decision. It’s was likely antithetical to his upbringing as a young Latino.
The greatest injustice, however, was committed against the lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci. Ricci has a condition called dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disability that manifests itself primarily with understanding written language like manmade tests. Ricci knew he had an uphill battle to fight, so he hired a tutor to help him prepare for the exam. He spent months studying because he knew the cards were stacked against him. And with a flippant dismissal of political correctness, Sotomayor rendered his remarkable achievement null and void. He was penalized because others didn’t sacrifice as he did for success. If a dyslexic can score well on a promotional exam, it would be nothing less than an insult to claim that members of the black community couldn’t do the same.
Final Thoughts on Judicial Nominee Sonia Sotomayor
Judge Sotomayor’s decision is on the wrong side of logic and justice. She exchanged the vital precept of Hispanic culture that hard work and diligence furnish success for the liberal entitlement paradigm that the disenfranchised are owed fruits without actual labor. Sotomayor’s lack of identification to her own Hispanic roots sends the message that rewards don’t come to those who work, but to those who have an excuse to fail. This philosophy, if practiced, will create a generation of individuals wholly dependent upon government intervention and less reliant upon personal faculties for success. The GOP ought to stress that this court case provides a glimpse into the political ideology of Judge Sotomayor, and they should articulate how antithetical it is to the values of the Hispanic community
. By doing this, they are not opposing the judicial nomination of a Latina, but rather opposing an activist liberal operating from entitlement presuppositions. If this message is sent clearly, the only ones who will take up a cause against the GOP are liberal Hispanic organizations like La Raza, not the Hispanic community.
National Latino News