Posted by: Bill | June 12, 2009

Identity politics discussion

The nomination of Sonia Sotamayor and the firestorm that some Republicans attempted to subsequently whip up spawned a great discussion between a few Atlantic bloggers regarding identity politics. The editors have taken the liberty of compiling the highlights in one place (linked above) to save readers some time (I very much appreciate this).

Before I get to the discussion itself, let me note that I really get tired of what happens when it’s time to nominate a new SCOTUS judge. We get the same tired old arguments from both sides when you know he/she is going to be confirmed. I am too young to remember Robert Bork, but he and Harriet Miers are the only exceptions in recent times. I am quite thankful that the firestorm surrounding Miers led to her withdrawl by the way.

My feelings on judges is that you pick the best person for the job. Experience, hard work and intelligence should rule the day. My views are formed by the fact that I strongly believe a judge interprets the law. He/She is not there to shape it to the world we live in. That is for our elected representatives. If 10 years from now, we somehow have nine Hispanic female judges, I will have no problem with it if they were selected based on their resume. Sotomayor has a solid resume and the quotes that the R’s are using to attack her are pretty weak.

Now to what was, for me, the highlight of the discussion. I enjoyed the identify politics discussion and the way it branched into some political philosophy. The beauty of it was at the end when someone actually admits they might have made a mistake. Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish) writes:

I think I blew it in that post on Sotomayor. I was unfair. My worries about the reductionism of identity politics stand. And Ta-Nehisi isn’t that far apart from me in fact. But it was unfair to project all that on a Latina woman who made it the hard way based on one stray comment and years of activism in her community. I got owned and deserved it.

This is extremely rare and it raises my respect for anyone with the stones to say it out loud in such a public place as the Internet. TNC expresses something else important as well when he notes:

I don’t think of blogging as a final verdict on my politics, as much as I think of it as a factory without walls. You are watching writing get made, largely because you are watching thinking get made. And then a few times a year, you’ll see the final product of that thinking in long form. And even then I reserve the right to revisit that long form and dissent from my own words, to recast them, revise them, and reject them completely, if need be.

I have deep respect for the humility of this statement. I feel the same way in that I am fully aware that there are countless things I don’t know anything about and a few that I know just a little bit about and maybe a handful that I feel very confident discussing (sadly, the Steelers likely top the list instead of something useful). If this blog lasts long enough, I would expect to see future me disagree with current or past me.



  1. […] little more on Sotomayor By Bill As a follow-up to my post on Sotomayor and identity politics, I wanted to also link to this column from Charles Krauthammer. […]

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