Pundits are discussing Barack Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court judge’s views on everything from race to policy. While all those things are important, no one has addressed Señorita Sonia Sotomayor’s qualification to sit as a judge on the highest court in the land should be based on wisdom.
Wisdom is defined as the ability to judge what is true, right or lasting. It is incorporated together with common sense and good judgment, neither of which Sonia Sotomayor has exhibited in the things she has blurted out of an uncontrolled mouth. The Bible says, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Luke 6:45). The Obama Administration is attempting to respond to the accusations of racism based on a statement Sotomayor made at a 2001 conference in Berkley, California where she said, “I 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.” The explanation by those speaking on her behalf is that she misspoke and that if given the opportunity she would restate what she said. Judges should be measured, thoughtful and introspective, not uncontrolled, impulsive and flippant when speaking about the law.
Sotomayor gave a lengthy discourse at the University of California Berkeley, School of Law. In that speech, the “Latina Judge” made more than one unwise misstatement. She referred to the “old-boy network.” She addressed America’s “…deeply confused image of itself that is in perpetual tension.” Not only did she separate people by race and gender but then divided Latino’s into subgroups like Mexican-Americans, Puerto Rican’s, Caribbean and Latin American’s. She spoke of herself not as American but rather a Puertoriquena and NewYorkrician, differentiating West Cost from East Coast. Men, women, African-American, White, Latino…her speech divvied up people groups in America stressing differences much more than similarities. She mentioned the tension of New York’s diversity calling it, “the melting pot and the salad bowl.”
When King Solomon of the Bible prayed he did not ask God for riches, fame or the legislative ability to “redistribute the wealth.” He did not implore the Lord to recognize his gender, race, creed or color instead he petitioned the Lord for wisdom and wisdom was granted to him. His first concern was governing and judging in a way that would best benefit his people. He didn’t have an agenda or a predisposition, instead he recognized his own lack of wisdom and appealed to the Lord for insight saying, “…give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…discernment in administering justice” ( 1 Kings 3:9-12).
Solomon’s wisdom was made evident through his wise rulings and through the things that he said when he opened his mouth. Sonia Sotomayor, may be saying things Barack Obama wants to hear but her words belie a lack of forethought and wisdom and Barack’s approval of those words reveal a lot about him.
Barack Obama sees Sonia Sotomayor as the ingredient the high court has been missing. Ideologically she fits the criteria of someone who is willing to raise her blindfold to peak beneath, loading up the scales of justice with, “mucho platos de arroz, gandules y pernil – rice, beans and pork” in an effort to address the racial inequalities that Obama hopes to equalize through judicial activism. Her ability to exhibit thoughtful wisdom is not the credential Obama seeks. Instead, his qualifications include a social agenda similar to his own, as well as an empathy toward minorities, the poor and women. Yet, nowhere in his affirmation of Sotomayor, or her credentials, does he even mention wisdom.
“Wisdom is knowing when to speak your mind and when to mind your speech” said Evangel, neither of which Ms. Sotomayor seems to practice. In fact, being aware that she is saying something she ought not and then failing to exercise self-control and insight to keep quiet shows a tremendous character flaw. Now if Latina heritage or estrogen override intellectual acumen as a prerequisite to judging, Sonia seems to be qualified. Barack Obama seems more interested in making sure that Sonia Sotomayor, “…climb those marble stairs and start providing some justice” by ruling on the side of liberal policy than he does her ability to adjudicate with wise Solomon-like decision making.
A judge should be the embodiment of fairness, impartiality, common sense with a sage-like wisdom under girding all these qualities. Without wisdom as the foundation the others cannot bear the weight of difficult decisions and unpopular rulings. Sonia Sotomeyer, hasn’t just made one unwise statement, but many. She mocked the belief that policy is not made on the judicial level and scoffed at the premise that the letter of the law should be followed. These statements are more than unwise, they are dangerous.
Her speech at Berkeley outlined her belief that individual experiences and perceptions have impact on a judge’s legal decisions. She articulated her feeling and belief that while judges must transcend…
Personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of the law…she wondered whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And wondered whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.
Yet, Obama has not addressed the lack of wisdom incorporated into a statement that exudes sexism and racism and judicial activism because this is the type of jurist he desires to see on the court. Someone who will bring a level of activism that he feels has been missing since the beginning. He said in July 2007 at a Planned Parenthood conference,
We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.
Quoting Professor Martha Minnow, Sotomayor shared that there can, “…never be a universal definition of wise.” That statement in itself incorporates the epitome of Sotomayor’s lack of wisdom. If Sonia Sotomayor does not recognize that judges must “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and the rich.” If she is not willing to judicially split a child in two to remain true to what is just, she may have the empathy Obama requires to remake the court and ultimately the nation but lacks the wisdom of Solomon, a follower of the original Framer.
Sonia Sotomayor has not proven herself wiser than she is ideological and epitomizes the folly of identity politics. Barack Obama appears to be willing to sacrifice the nation rather than return it to a place of wholeness in the arms of Lady Liberty by choosing instead non-activist judges who adhere to the original intent of the Constitution.
Sonia Sotomayer is a potential wielder of an unjust rapier. She is willing to forfeit Constitutional stability under a sword of liberalism and judicial activism. She has not proven herself judicious in an atmosphere where wisdom is a top priority and where the scales of justice require the guidance of God, not ideology.
Solomon’s wisdom has gone down in the annals of history as being the encapsulation of good judgment. His statements were measured and full of justice, “When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.” (1 Kings 3: 28). Solomon’s poorly chosen words, if not guided by wisdom, would have cost the life of an innocent child and his reputation as a just and wise ruler.
Señorita Sotomayor’s poorly chosen words are an indication of her lack of wisdom and should make her ineligible to ascend those marble stairs. Judge Sotomayor should not be rewarded with the opportunity to continue to mete out more misdirected, bigoted, racist justice at the cost of the life of our nation and the survival of all our freedoms.