Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Senate's Supreme Soap Opera

As the Sotomayor Show drones on, Democrats and Republicans are pushing dueling plot lines--an American dream of minority upward mobility vs. the Conservative nightmare of activist judges tilting the scales in favor of it (see firemen, New Haven).

Behind these postures is the reality that Supreme Court confirmations are now TV soap operas in which politicians emote to their core constituencies on the way to what only Lindsey Graham openly acknowledges as Judge Sotomayor's predetermined final scene: "Unless you have a meltdown, you’re going to get confirmed.”

Without the high drama of Borking or Clarence Thomas High-Tech Lynching, this week's action will feature nitpicking over Wise Latina Woman and other off-the-bench remarks by the nominee, leaving the dutiful viewer to muse over the middle-aged woman at the center of it all.

Behind that figure of "a young minority woman from humble circumstances who overcomes obstacles, fights discrimination and achieves the American dream," David Brooks sees "a person who worked hard and contributes profoundly to society, but who also sacrificed things along the way"--in short, a personal life.

Brooks' concern for Sotomayor is touching, but it invites comparison with attitudes toward the Justice she is succeeding, David Souter, a quirky, reclusive New England bachelor who preferred mountain-climbing to Washington socializing.

No one clucked over Souter's "sacrifices," and after this week's ordeal is over, Sotomayor will take her seat as the third woman ever on the Supreme Court and, by the time her tenure ends, such sexist distinctions will be long gone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's just hope you're right. I feel that I'm forever assuming that we're well past shameful past discrimination, only to find that what I see as shameful, others see as honorable personal histories!