Wow, is Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, ever in for it!
Mark Kirkorian of the anti-immigrant “Center for Immigration Studies” told the press this week that it is incorrect to pronounce her name SotomayOR with the accent on the last syllable as she and anybody who knows a smidgeon of Spanish pronounces it, but that the name should be pronounced “SotoMAYur,’ with the accent on the second to last syllable. Why? Because this is America, and people should Americanize the pronunciation of their foreign names if they want to stay here. We have reliable information that Kirkorian, for example, pronounces his typically Armenian name as “Chumley”.
This is the tip of the iceberg of the racist and sexist attacks and insults to which Ms. SotomaYOR is being subjected as her confirmation proceeds. Worse than refusing to patriotically mispronounce her own name, she confesses to being influenced by her environment. And horrible to relate, President Obama has said he was looking for judges who exhibit “empathy.’
The Republican right ran to their dictionaries to look up “empathy” and found that it means “ability to understand the feelings of others,’ or some such commie claptrap. So of course, they’re “agin’” it. “Empathy” has no place on the Supreme Court.
Well, I did some research and found out that by definition, a person without empathy is a “psychopath.’ Yes, psychiatrists define psychopaths as people who are unable to exhibit “empathy or remorse.’ So if the right wants people without empathy on the Supreme Court, what they are really looking for are psychopaths in black robes.
I think this is perfectly reasonable. After all, psychopaths have had distinguished careers in both the executive and legislative branches, so why not in the judiciary also? Having an all-psychopath, no-empathy bench would solve several current legal dilemmas like the argument over whether people who are actually innocent should be executed because their incompetent legal counsel did not file appeal papers on time (I kid you not, this is actually being discussed).
But there is another problem. Judge Sotomayor is quoted as having suggested in a 2001 speech that the environment in which she and other judges grew up might have a positive influence on their ability to understand their duties. Of course, Ms. Sotomayor grew up as a working-class daughter of Puerto Rican parents, and was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
Most people who read her whole 2001 statement conclude that it’s just common sense. Judges like anybody else are influenced by their life experiences, and this is bound to be reflected in some of their rulings.
It is also ridiculous and offensive to claim that a Puerto Rican woman from a working class background would be negatively affected, as a judge, by her life experiences, but a white male from an elite background would only be positively impacted by his own life experiences. It is tantamount to saying that only rich white men are eligible to do the judging.
As a friend said “anybody who believes this nonsense must be living on another planet.’
So maybe that is the solution to the dilemma of judges being influenced by their life experiences: Find Supreme Court candidates from other worlds beyond our solar system. They would have been influenced, perhaps, by their experiences growing up on their own planets, but not by the human situations which the form the context of the cases on which they are supposed to rule, which is what we are trying to avoid here.
Of course, being brought in from outer space would mean that they are not U.S. citizens and therefore ineligible for judicial appointments. But that can be solved as it was for media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who suddenly was made a U.S. citizen, butting ahead in line in front of several tens of millions of people so he could own TV and radio stations here.
So how’s that for a plan? Psychopathic space cadets for the Supreme Court!
The Republican right should be very pleased with that, as they would have plenty of candidates for future openings, including a former vice president.