Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Court's "Miss Congeniality" Contest

Heartbreaking news for Antonin Scalia (irony alert): His reputation as the warmest, fuzziest Justice may be endangered by Barack Obama's new choice.

"Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament" is a New York Times headline, reporting the Supreme Court nominee's "occasionally combative manner--some lawyers have described her as 'difficult' and 'nasty'--raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen."

The message is that Judge Sotomayor is no pussycat. Shades of Lupe Velez, who starred in those "Mexican Spitfire" movies before World War II! Back then, audiences were highly entertained by the antics of an explosive, volatile Latina, who paraded her emotions to comic effect. But those days are long gone, along with the old stereotype of black men as lazy, shiftless Stepin Fetchits...aren't they?

Further down in the Times story, the verdict on Sotomayor is downgraded to "brilliant" and "assertive" with the observation by a male judge, a former dean of the Yale Law School, “Some lawyers just don’t like to be questioned by a woman. It was sexist, plain and simple.”

Be that as it may, the debate over Obama's nominee promises to be as enlightening as an "American Idol" competition, with Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich leading the way by suggesting that Judge Sotomayor is a "racist ."

Even if Scalia hasn't, the standup comics have clearly met their match.

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