Throughout the confirmation process, Sonia Sotomayor has distinguished herself from prospective candidates and future colleagues by self-identifying as a “wise Latina” and explaining how her life experience, the daughter of immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx, expands her views of the world and gives her a leg up in comparison to other justices.
Critics have demonized these statements, claiming they foreshadow an attempt to legislate from the bench. They have referred to her as an “activist judge,” and Senate Republicans latched on attempting to prevent her confirmation. However, from my own personal research, “activist judge” seems to be code for any individual who upholds the Constitution in a more just and fair way for all citizens of the US, not just a select few. Perhaps all justices would interpret the US Constitution differently if they truly understood the realities experienced by ethnic and gender minorities, along with those surviving day to day on the streets.
However, when analyzing this “wise Latina’s” view on abortion, will that supposed unique understanding of the lives of women in poverty translate into the same type of judicial support displayed by predecessor David Souter? Unfortunately, the jury is still out. While Sotomayor has caused a stir in the feminist community with powerful statements, her record on reproductive health seems to be minimalist at best. [Read more...]