Sotomayor and the Albatross of Christianity

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Has anyone stopped to ask what it would be like if Sotomayor were an evangelical? I’m sure her story might read like this:

A middle-aged evangelical Christian woman was nominated to the Supreme Court. Raised in a small Southern town by a poor widowed mother, she had limited educational opportunities, but this bright woman, benefitting from Affirmative Action programs targeting Southern evangelical women, got scholarships to Ivy League universities. She graduated from Princeton and Yale Law School, was a private lawyer, a prosecutor, and served for nearly 20 years as a federal judge. Her personal story is inspiring with its up-from-poverty, making-it-big-on-merit ramifications.

Geographically, the nominee provides balance on the court. In terms of faith, she brings a new perspective to the Jewish and Catholic believers already making up the court. Politically, she represents about 25 percent of the party base of the President who nominated her. That President makes it clear that the nominee will bring her gender, background, and experiences to her decision-making – that her personal story is inseparable from her views. The Administration makes no effort to deny that the nominee was chosen because she can be relied upon consistently and reliably to make Biblically-derived judgments on legal issues.

The candidate stated publicly, “I would hope that an evangelical Christian with the richness of her religious experience and Biblically-informed perspective would more often than not reach a better conclusion than an African-American Muslim or Latino adherent to Liberation Theology who has no regard for a Christ-centered life.”

There is ample room for questions about the nominee’s record. As a member of a panel of federal judges, she reviewed a reverse-discrimination case that originated in Connecticut. A group of 17 white and one Latino firefighter scored high enough on the promotions test to move up in rank. The City of New Haven denied their promotions because no blacks scored high enough to be promoted. The current Supreme Court nominee won high praise from the President because of her courage in summarily dismissing the case as a member of the three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit, saying that the firefighters did not have a “viable” claim under the law. Critics accused the nominee of racial preferences, but the President declared the necessity for judicial “empathy” when dealing with situations involving the disadvantaged. He is confident that the nominee’s faith will give her the extra insight that she needs to judge with sensitivity and due consideration of external circumstances.

Given the political dominance of the left in the Senate, there is little likelihood that the controversial candidate will be allowed a seat on the Supreme Court, despite the fact that her religious views conform to those of some of the most illustrious Supreme Court Justices in years gone by. The question is whether her reputation and record will be destroyed. The nominee’s critics argue that her personal characteristics, especially her faith, disqualify her for the lifetime appointment, particularly in light of the fact that some of those who have worked with her claim that she is “not that smart and something of a bully on the bench – in all simply lacking in judicial temperament.” Other critics argue that her life experiences and her personal feelings will make her a crusader to “right past wrongs” and “rule in a way that will result in the policy changes that will transform America.”

Those supporting the evangelical nominee argue that her religion has no bearing on her ability, and they point out that the standard of legal competence and judicial objectivity are the primary characteristics to be considered when voting a nominee up or down. They argue that her religion is irrelevant – that each of us believes in some set of guiding principles by which we live our lives.

Naturally, a mature and healthy society welcomes this new addition of a formerly excluded group, evangelical Christians, now having the opportunity to earn their way to the top.

Not so!

My transparent distortion of Sotomayor’s positions vividly points out the double standard applied to candidates from different political persuasions. President Obama has declared his goal of redistributing power and money during his Administration in order to “even things out.” Anyone who reads Sonia Sotomayor’s writing understands that she is committed to quotas and to racial and gender preferences.

One has only to look at the character assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas to understand the vitriol that Sonia Sotomayor would have to endure if she were an evangelical candidate, or if she were anything other than a minority woman holding “progressive” views. Witness the savaging of Alberto Gonzales, President Bush’s Attorney General. The “high-tech lynching” of Thomas is one of the most embarrassing episodes in this nation’s history. This gifted black jurist with a personal story as compelling as Sonia Sotomayor’s was viciously attacked because he held conservative views. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee should not succumb to the same type of character assassination as they vet Sonia Sotomayor, but they cannot ignore the shameful bashing dished out to Miguel Estrada, Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Nor can they allow the leftist Senators to get away with posturing and hypocrisy, given their past record of personal destruction regarding the aforementioned candidates.

Will the American people send a message to our Senators that an honest discussion of a nominee’s judicial philosophy is a legitimate responsibility? Will the American people let Senators know that appointing a Supreme Court Justice who rules on the basis of her feelings will deny the rule of law, create disrespect for the law and bring harm to the courts and throughout the land?

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