May 28, 2009 2 Comments
After receiving a few emails expressing outrage over the “liberal” nominee for the Supreme Court, I decided that I needed to read up a bit on the issues that were brought up by various talking heads, emails, etc. Here is my two cents on a couple of issues I have seen raised.
The "Latina Women are better than White Men" comment
Looking at the actual snippet, the comment is far less inflammatory than is being expressed.
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
The above comment was part of a speech given at the University of California, Berkeley for a conference entitled Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation. Given the context, I am not overly concerned with the comment, as it was specifically tailored for a particular group and was given in response to the comment “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases”.
Do questions need to be asked about her feelings on racial issues? Certainly, as the answers the questions may, in fact, reveal that the above comment is part of her overall feelings on Latina women versus white men and may cloud her judgment on issues. But, it should be only to establish her thoughts on this issue and then taken as part of the entire line of questioning. Extended focus on this particular comment is ridiculous. I would certainly hope this does not become the major focus of the upcoming dog and pony show, as it distracts.
The New Haven Fire Department Fiasco
I agree with the sentiment being expressed over this one, but it is not Sotomayor’s fault. Title VII states that discrimination is illegal when it comes to hiring practices. It, unfortunately, does not iterate what discrimination is, leaving plenty of room open for interpretation. Specifically, it does not iterate what disparate discrimination is, or when there is unintentional discrimination.
The sad part is the New Haven fire department heads knee jerked when they found 60% of white test takers passing and only 30% of black and hispanic takers passing the Lieutenant’s and Captain’s exams. The knee jerk was further justified by looking at the passing candidates and whether they would actually get one of the slots. No black individual would have been promoted, due to the number of slots. The first legal precedent is Griggs v. Duke Power Company, where the company stopped overt racist practices, but added a high school diploma and IQ test to the requirements for higher positions. The decision was further spelled out in Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, which concluded their tests unfairly excluded blacks from higher paying jobs, and Washington v. Davis, which concluded the Washington DC police force’s verbal tests were failed disproportionately by black applicants. The nail in the coffin was Connecticut v. Teal, which found that adverse impact at any stage in a promotion process constitutes discrimination.
The crux of the law is it is illegal to have a process that has disparate impact on hiring and promotion unless one can prove the process is a "reasonable measure of job performance".
The main argument I can see against Sotomayor’s decision is whether or not she correctly decided against the plaintiffs as precedence allows for adjusting scores of minority applications and not throwing out the results of an exam altogether. If this is the worst this woman has done, it seems like thin ice to me.
The best two arguments against Sotomayor, at this point, are rather trivial, unless one can show evidence that they shows a trend in favoritism against the majority. At present, this is not firmly evident.
Peace and Grace,