Wednesday, June 03, 2009
What is "context"?
First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable.
Note that the subject, a woman who has recently come to national attention, is talking about cases involving discrimination. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in gender discrimination cases. It certainly is not true that other folks are *incapable* of understanding the values.
But it took until 1972 for 9 white men to uphold a discrimination lawsuit involving a woman.
A wise latina would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion when discussing cases like those under consideration... those involving racism or sexism. Or, so she suggests, recognizing that a great many of those cases were decided less wisely, since sexism and racism were both upheld when the court was composed entirely of white men. But even there, she states, quite clearly, that "many are ... capable" of understanding the values and needs of other groups.
Why don't conservatives who want to attack Sotomayor bring this context up? Is it that they can't read her speech and recognize the context?
Or does the first part of the sentence say all that needs to be said? That too many conservatives just wish to attack Sotomayor, without regard for the truth?