QOTD: Sonia Sotomayor and the Unbearable Whiteness of Being a Republican

by matttbastard

[Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama] pre-emptively declared that he would not vote for a judge who uses the “empathy standard” in deciding cases—a reference to the sensitivity toward average people that President Obama said he looked for in nominees, and which has been transformed by the political right into code for favoring blacks or other ethnic minorities over whites. Sessions seemed to predict nothing short of the collapse of American law as we know it if Sotomayor is confirmed: “Down one path is the traditional American legal system, so admired around the world, where judges impartially apply the law to the facts without regard to their own personal views,” Sessions declared. “This is the compassionate system because it is the fair system.”

Undeterred by his gross historical error—had every court in American history applied the law in this manner, schools would still be legally segregated, a woman’s right to earn a living and obtain credit would still be denied, and so on—Sessions went on to attack even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an unusual broadside against a sitting justice, he accused Ginsburg of being “one of the most activist judges in history” even though a glancing look at her record shows she has been part of an almost powerless, left-of-center bloc on the court that included three men, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.

Ginsburg’s affliction, then, is apparently the same as Sotomayor’s: She sees the world differently than does Sessions. This is the key to understanding the unhinged argument about “empathy.”

It presumes that the white male experience is the only authentically American experience, and therefore the only one that could possibly be unbiased. Whatever predispositions or inclinations these men bring to the law are the valid ones. After all, they are not hampered by some silly notions they may have picked up along the way had they lived their lives as women or as members of minority groups.

– Marie Cocco, Closet Racism in the Age of Obama

h/t EileenLeft

Related: Cory Doctorow points to an extensive Flickr gallery commemorating Sessions’ longstanding tenure as a dumbasstastic racist fuckateer. On a more serious note, U.S. News runs down ‘Sonia Sotomayor’s 13 Most Notable Decisions’.

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Quote of the Day: Too Clever By Half

by matttbastard

I can’t help but be, oh, a little bit skeptical of Republicans’ sudden interest in the glass ceiling. After all, this is the party that threw women like Lilly Ledbetter under the bus, in favor of businesses that practice wage discrimination. The party that stymied the Equal Rights Amendment. The party that not only wants to force women here and abroad to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, but also wants to deny them access to a range of contraception options.

[…]

It’s clear that Republicans believe that what made Hillary Clinton such a good candidate was her gender, not her political experience or positions on the issues. And McCain’s decision to pick Palin shows he took this message to heart and chose to add her to the ticket primarily because of her gender. In so doing, McCain has turned the idea of the first woman in the White House from a true moment of change to an empty pander.

Why is this a pander? Because Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women’s interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she’s a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she’s not on the record.

Of course, I’m of the belief that more women in politics — across the ideological spectrum — is always a good thing. On a superficial level, nominating a woman to the Republican presidential ticket is indeed a milestone. But the real reason many women were excited about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is that she was the whole package — a politician with a solid record on issues like choice and fair pay, and with a lot of experience, who was also a woman. Even feminists I disagreed with during the primary made the compelling point that it wasn’t just about Hillary’s gender. It was about her record, too.

– Ann Friedman, McCain’s Sexist VP Choice

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