The reaction to the Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is very fascinating to me. There is nothing that brings out every legal and cultural difference in the country like a Supreme Court nominee. That shows just how powerful that position is. I hope we can all sift through the crazy people’s opinions and have an honest debate. It probably won’t happen. I want to touch on one of the issues being used against her. There’s been a big deal made about empathy and how her cultural and life experiences may have and effect on her decisions. First of all I blame President Obama for that because he shouldn’t have mentioned it as part of the criteria before he made the choice. Second of all, doesn’t everyone do this anyway even if they don’t say it?
Is there really anyone that can read something or hear a story on the news and not apply their own personal experiences and outlook to their opinions? Even if your job is to interpret and enforce the rule of law, you would have to be conscious of who you are and what you believe even if it was just to remind you of the fact that a certain case may make you biased. If I was a judge ruling on a case involving the Corps of Engineers there is way what happened in New Orleans wouldn’t come into my mind. I would still have to judge the facts and rule accordingly but I would have to address my personal feelings even if it was internal. That would be a natural human response. It’s just like when a story about a problem in the black community comes up and a middle class white person from the suburbs tells me they don’t agree with my stance or see it differently. That’s not a bad thing if I engage them and we exchange our different views on it. In my opinion it’s foolish to think that if five people from different walks of life are sitting in a room reading a story that their background won’t come into play when giving their opinions.
That’s one of the products of having a diverse society. People are going to see issues in different ways. That’s a good thing as long as you don’t want to harm the other person who doesn’t see it the way you do. I think different outlooks and opinions are a good thing even when it involves the law. If there was never any wavering in the written letter of the law then it would probably be illegal for a man that looks like me to express this opinion to the general public. Why nominate a Puerto Rican sister from the Bronx, NY if you don’t want any Puerto Rican Bronx flavor added to the mix? When Justice Thomas who is as conservative as it gets made his dissent on cross burning, you don’t think his experience as a black man growing up in Georgia during the 50’s and 60’s had anything to do with that? The point is everyone’s is affected by their life experiences. If not then we might as well let robots take over.