05 Jun 2009

Group Identities, Some More Equal Than Others

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The problem with liberal group identity politics is that only certain groups get special consideration. It’s a glorious day when a black gets this position or a Hispanic gets that, but quieter American groups who don’t make organized complaints are not only overlooked, but are incorporated wholesale into the category of guilty oppressors of the former.

Descendants of working class 1900-era Catholic immigrants, like myself and University of Texas Law Professor Lino Graglia, find all this more than a little ironic. Professor Graglia questioned Sonia Sottomayor’s view of Hispanic group entitlement in a letter to the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s speech at a La Raza function in Berkeley, Calif. in 2001 has become famous for the candid statement of her belief that “a wise Latina woman” is likely to be a better judge than a white male. But there is much more that is questionable in the speech. She led up to her conclusion by arguing that America is “deeply confused” yet we “insist that we can and must function and live in a race and color-blind way.” It is fine that she has, as she says, a “wonderful and magical . . . Latina soul,” but that is not the basis for an assumption of superiority. Incredibly, she criticizes another judge who “sees danger in presuming that judging should be gender or anything else biased.” She apparently sees no danger in at least some kinds of bias.

She also noted, “. . . no Hispanics, male or female, sit on the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, District of Columbia or Federal Circuits. Sort of shocking, isn’t it? This is the year 2002. We have a long way to go.” Is it also shocking that there are no Italians, Swedes, Greeks or Poles on several of those courts, or is it only a problem in regard to Hispanics? What racial and ethnic composition of the courts would be unobjectionable in her opinion?

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