When I wasn’t fighting about my Jewish friends over whether Benjamin Cardozo was the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice(he wasn’t), I was fighting with them about whether or not Sonia Sotomayor was qualified to be a Supreme Court judge (she is). They assured me that because she’d only been picked because she was a Latina woman, she wasn’t qualified.
I wonder if she had just been a woman, if they would have been so quick to call her nomination some type of affirmative action. I find that because of affirmative action, people frequently assume that anyone of color in a position of power is there because of affirmative action. Did President Obama get his job because of affirmative action? I haven’t seen any news on that.
In “Diverse Opinions,” a piece in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Tobin, he writes:
“Presidents care about diversity, which is a relatively new term for an idea that is nearly as old as the Court itself. In the early days of the republic, when regional disputes were the foremost conflict of the era, nominees were generally defined by their home turfs. So Presidents came to honor an informal tradition of preserving a New England seat, a Virginia seat, a Pennsylvania seat, and a New York seat on the Court.
In the nineteenth century, as a torrent of European immigrants transformed American society, religious differences took on a new significance, and Presidents used Supreme Court appointments to recognize the new arrivals’ growing power.
In 1836, Andrew Jackson made Roger B. Taney the first occupant of what became known as the Catholic seat on the Court, and that tradition carried forward intermittently for more than a century, with Edward White, Joseph McKenna, Pierce Butler, Frank Murphy, and William J. Brennan, Jr., occupying the chair.
In 1916, Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis D. Brandeis, establishing the Jewish seat, which later went, with brief overlapping periods, to Benjamin N. Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, and Abe Fortas.” His article further explores this idea without ever once mentioning “affirmative action.”
I may not agree with everything Sonia Sotomayor has done or said but I do think that she is an awesome role model for Latinos, for women, for everyone. Maybe if she’d been a Supreme Court judge when I was still in school, I would have aimed higher. I certainly didn’t imagine that a Puerto Rican girl from the projects or the ghetto could go to Princeton or Harvard Law School. (I also didn’t imagine that my family was a little bit Puerto Rican, too, as my grandmother recently confessed.)
Latina magazine recently featured the Sotomayor
t-shirt pictured above on their website.
The T-shirt was designed by KC Tees
. I just won one in a KC Tees giveaway on Facebook
. I am very excited to wear it.