Hispanics in the U.S.

Day 1 of Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings: Political Theatre, A Verdict on Who Embraces the 21st Century

While Republicans are trying to figure out how to plausibly attack Judge Sonia Sotomayor for her "empathy," the Governor of Virginia and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee DNC taped this message in English and Spanish to explain the importance of this Supreme Court nominee.  

As Simon recently stated in a Washington Post article, the Democratic Party has been far more deft at capitalizing on the nation's changing demographics and he has called the Sotomayor nomination another example of the party's recognition of the fact that America will soon be a majority-minority nation.

Watching this video leads me to think several things, particularly as I watch it in conjunction with the Sotomayor hearing:  1) President Obama demonstrates once again how seriously he takes the vote of the Hispanic demographic by having named a man who speaks fluent Spanish and began his career in public service in Honduras as the Chairman of the DNC; 2) there is such a harsh, almost abrasive distinction between the ranting of Sen. Jeff Sessions and this positive message by Gov. Kaine. 

Watching Sen. Sessions, one would think that "empathy" is all of a sudden a vile thing to have - his ranting just shows him as cold and out of touch. 

Using his new code word of "empathy," by saying the judiciary is at a "dangerous crossroads," Sessions did everything but call Judge Sotomayor a "racist."  It is telling that all of the criticism of Sotomayor heard today had nothing to do with her judicial record, and everything to do with Republican "empathy" and subjectivity.  Sessions attempted to veil his attacks by throwing out an amendment here and there, claiming that Judge Sotomayor's decisions aimed to "eviscerate the 2nd amendment," making abortion "easier" and "taking private property." 

In reality, the gun-related case Sotomayor reviewed had to do with a ban in New York on a popular gang weapon known as a "nunchaku." The court upheld the state ban, judging that the the 2nd amendment entails an individual right, which has different legal implications than a "fundamental" right (but how could Sessions know).  In that case, Sotomayor and the panel affirmed the Supreme Court decision on a D.C. gun ban stating that "It is settled law . . . that the 2nd Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right," not individual state rights.

In regards to abortion, the only somewhat related case Sotomayor has ruled on was a case to review the Hyde amendment, in which her opinion upheld the ban on using federal funds to pay for abortion procedures.  Lastly, Sessions might not know of this thing called "eminent domain," which allows for the seizure of private property under very specific terms and with compensation - in that case, yet again, Sotomayor upheld the strict terms of the law. 

As Simon said, "If during the next few weeks the Republicans appear to be playing politics with race rather than raising legitimate issues about Sotomayor's judicial approach it could reinforce the deep impression that the Republican Party's anachronistic and intolerant approach to race and diversity is making them less capable of leading a very different and more racially diverse America of the early 21st century."  

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