The UWIRE Forum


Youth react to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor
May 31, 2009, 2:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Student columnists — one conservative and one progressive — respond to President Barack Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor to be a Supreme Court justice.

Click more for “Obama’s pick shows the triumph of politics” and “Overlooking truth and “Overlooking truth and judicial record, young people will embrace Sotomayor.”

Chris Burks

Chris Burks

Obama’s pick shows the triumph of politics

President Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor represents the triumph of politics and, while thoroughly predictable, leaves hope for that which matters more:

The triumph of ideas.

See, America is not yet a laissez-faire meritocracy or a land with an unfettered marketplace of ideas.  A child raised in a Bronx housing project can become a Supreme Court Justice, but only when the idea that all children everywhere have the opportunity to have an excellent education triumphs will we move closer to fulfilling America’s promise.

In Obama’s America, ideas matter more than they did in the straightjacket of certainty imposed during the Bush years, but ideas — particularly those great societal notions of equal justice and liberty advanced by progressives throughout history — must still be tempered by confounding compromise with conservative reactionaries and taken in the context of America’s history of racial and ethnic strife.

All of this is to say that President Obama’s pick had as much to do with electoral politics and Presidential policy as it does with progressive constitutional jurisprudence.

Despite the rhetoric coming from Tony Perkins and the controversies-in-a-box manufactured to raise money for conservative advocacy groups, this generation knows that Obama’s pick represents a near “Jackie Robinson moment” for Hispanic-Americans in this country and is smart politics for a President who needs Hispanic-American support and doesn’t want to pick a fight with a Congress that he needs to pass his ambitious agenda.

Still, as a nation of immigrants, a land of opportunity, this selection is historic. “Si se puede” resonates all the more in the South Bronx tonight.

Ultimately, if history teaches us that the enlightenment represented the triumph of reason over dogma, then perhaps Justice Sotomayor will help us continue on the path Obama is leading us forward on to an age of results over symbolism, progress over satisfaction, and ideas over politics.

Michael Warren

Michael Warren

Overlooking truth and judicial record, young people will embrace Sotomayor

Barack Obama’s decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court should really excite those young people who love the president, but nearly every other young person will probably feel passively indifferent.

The pick is being hailed as the “first Hispanic”, a move that makes the president seem all that more historic to the Obamaphiles on campuses across the country. Of course, this claim is factually incorrect if we note that Benjamin Cardozo, who was nominated to the high court in 1932, was the son of Portuguese immigrants. Depending on which loose definition of “Hispanic” we choose to use, this could mean the first modern minority justice was nominated 77 years ago (and by a Republican, no less!).

These facts won’t matter, of course, to those among the youth of America who like to think that our generation is the first generation ever in the history of mankind to “get it.”

Young people on the far Left will also be thrilled that Sotomayor comes from a poor background (just like Clarence Thomas) because socio-economic and racial factors play a role in interpreting the Constitution, or something. More likely, Obama’s fans among young people will most likely approve the pick because Obama made it.

For everyone else interested in the future of the Supreme Court may have a few concerns about Judge Sotomayor. She is on record acknowledging that appeals courts are where “policy is made” and has a record of supporting judicial activism. Sotomayor also has the disappointing record of having several of her rulings reversed by the Supreme Court. These are troubling facts that may make the president’s pick seem more like a play in the identity politics game than a responsible court nomination.

Still, Sotomayer fits the bill for who Obama said he would nominate to the court if elected, so all of this should not come as a surprise.

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