Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Am I Still a Red-Meat Conservative?

It's been oddly gray and cloudy the last two days, but I doubt it has much to do with Obama's pick to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Sonia Sotomayor (So-toe-my-YORE) is probably headed for easy confirmation, despite a rather average record on the bench and some troubling comments she has made. Apparently, 60% of her rulings on the Court of Appeals bench have been overturned by higher courts, which seems very high. However, I have no idea what the average is, so I can't tell you if that's a real minus. However, does it denote someone who should be on the nation's highest court, from which there is no appeal? I read an interesting piece with interviews with fellow judges, clerks, and lawyers who had argued cases in front of Sotomayor, and their verdict was not as positive as one would expect. She sometimes argues with lawyers, gives hasty opinions, and is nasty in general on the court. She does not seem to like hearing arguments she disagrees with. On the other hand, she has carefully-written, comprehensible, and precedent-based opinions, and by all accounts absolutely pwns the oral arguments.

Sotomayor has never heard an abortion-related case, and her views on abortion can only be assumed, which might cause the pro-choice partisans some anxiety. However, I ask you: a liberal (if not leftist) female judge of Puerto-Rican ancestry who grew up in a single-parent household after her father died in a Bronx public-housing project. What would you expect her view on abortion to be? I dare you to count the stereotypes in that last sentence, but as far as I know most of them are true. However, I guess the question that might make Planned Parenthood is: how much DOES she support abortion? Hillary Clinton has been moving distinctly rightwards on the issue, to the point of saying that the ideal number of abortions was zero, and that it was imperative that Americans unite to move toward that number. Sotomayor's religion is, to me, unknown, but I'd guess Catholic. Catholicism strictly forbids abortion, so who knows? 

The main bones that commentators have to pick with Sotomayor are several troubling comments she has made, in speeches and in print. For example, she wrote in an essay that she "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." Rush Limbaugh called this "reverse racism." Rush, there's no such thing as "reverse" racism. Racism is racism, and this is rather bald-faced. Politico has an interesting discussion about this. Slate Magazine, however, says that in the context of the rest of the speech, Sotomayor was merely musing on how one's ethnic and family background affects your decision-making process. Still, it sounds like the remarks Larry Summers, the Dean of Harvard, made when he suggested that maybe, just maybe, there was a natural gap between men and women in scientific and mathematical achievement. He was fired in disgrace, but Sotomayor is a Hispanic woman so obviously she's entitled to say things like that. Uh-huh. 

Her other, more telling boo-boo:

This is more distressing. You may say: Well, what's wrong with that? That's because the courts have moved very far away from their original Constitutional mandate of interpreting the law, and truly more liberal courts have been doing so for years: that's how abortion and gay marriage became legal. Clearly, Sotomayor is of this school. Frankly, I have great contempt for them, just as I hate historical and Biblical revisionists who try to fog the truth to further their own agenda. 

Most commentators think Sotomayor is headed for a fairly easy confirmation, because the Republicans are a minority huddling behind the last stockade with their tails between their legs and because she didn't shoot anyone and is a woman. 


It's summer! And this day, the second day of work on this post and the third of summer vacation, has been absolutely gorgeous; balmy and warm and delightful. I love it. I'm really not bored: I've been playing computer games, reading, and mindlessly web-surfing. It's the reading part I get the most pleasure out of, however. I'm on Book 15 of a 20 book series, as most of you know: the Master and Commander series ( also known as the Aubreyad), which is simply delightful. 


I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh, and frankly, I still think he makes sense. However, during the waning years of the Bush administration and especially since I read Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher, I've moved away from the part of conservatism that he represents. I know longer find "Liberal hunting permits" and jokes about Barack Obama's middle name (Hussein) all that funny. This is slightly awkward since my dad (and, it must be confessed, most of the people with whom I discuss politics) are rabid Republicans. Have I moved to "the Left?" Absolutely not! It would still take a huge amount of soul-searching to get me to vote for a Democratic candidate even if he/she mirrored my views more closely than a Republican one. I think, instead, that I've moved from a booyah, America-worshipping, give-'em-both-barrels self-congratulatory unthinking set of beliefs to something deeper. I now believe that the modern Republican party is not the voice of true conservatism, and that capitalism has been mistaken for conservatism for many voters. Some Republican policies now seem absurd to me, like corporation-cozy government regulations that hurt small businesses, resistance to tax not because the government should be smaller and less thirsty but because we should have more money, and opposition to birth control (don't get me started on this: frankly, my view is that if a condom prevents an abortion, then go for it. Sexual immorality only wounds. Abortion is murder.) 

I think this move away from Rush Limbaugh (I still enjoy listening to him) has parallelled my move toward a deeper faith: at some point, one realizes that some Republican policies are as greedy and worshipful of Mammon as some Democratic policies are depraved and worshipful of the body. Both extremes distract from Christ, and so both are hindrances on our journeys toward Him. To many Americans, country and Christ go hand in hand. They need to remember that America is not the world's panacea, and that in the end it will pass away and anyone who was deluded into thinking that America-worship and Christ-worship are the same thing will be, to use a singularly American crudity, caught with their pants down. 

I don't know why I hid that confession (not, indeed a confession of wrong. More along the lines of St. Augustine's Confession: a confession of truth) at the end of this post, but I did. I hope everyone is having a great summer.


elisabeth said...

I thourghly enjoyed this post. Thank you for taking the time to write it. It has definitely been thought-provoking.