Thursday, May 28, 2009

Empathetic Reverse-Racist Judges

"[O]ur gender and our national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O' Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion...I am not so sure that I agree with that statement...I 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...[W]e 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...[N]ine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions.

Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I... owe [people] constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions, and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me require. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences."

-Empathetic Judge and Nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia M. Sotomayor, lecture to University of California-Berkeley School of Law, 2002

"But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, 'You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.'

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me. And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them."

-Empathetic Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel A. Alito before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2005

Step into the rain:

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