There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there is the United States of America.

– Then Illinois state senator Barack Obama, speaking to the 2004 Democratic Convention in 2004.

The wise man is the detached man. …he is a runner stripped for the race; he can weigh the conflicting factors of his problem without always finding himself in one scale or the other.

Judge Learned Hand, eulogizing the first Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court, Justice Benjamin Cardozo in 1938.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences … our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. … I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

– President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, speaking to a >Berkeley La Raza Law Journal in 2001.

Analyzing Sotomayor’s statement above, National Journal’s Stuart Taylor writes:

Imagine the reaction if someone had unearthed in 2005 a speech in which then-Judge Samuel Alito had asserted, for example: “I would hope that a white male with the richness of his traditional American values would reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn’t lived that life” — and had proceeded to speak of “inherent physiological or cultural differences.”

Any prominent white male would be instantly and properly banished from polite society as a racist and a sexist for making an analogous claim of ethnic and gender superiority or inferiority.

As disturbing as Sotomayor’s extra-judicial comments are, her record from the bench also presents cause for alarm, including:

Equal Opportunity: In Ricci v. Destefano, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion rejecting a lawsuit from a group of firefighters who claimed the city of New Haven, Connecticut violated their civil rights by invalidating the results of a test administered to fill 15 captain and lieutenant vacancies. The lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci, battled dyslexia and spent months studying for the test, which he passed, but because no African-American firefighters passed he was denied a promotion. Sotomayor’s curt rejection of Ricci’s claims prompted President Bill Clinton appointed Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes to write: “The opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case. This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”

Second Amendment: In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor joined an opinion holding that “it is settled law” that the Second Amendment only limits federal, and not state, gun control laws. Even the famously liberal Ninth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion last month in Nordyke v. King.

Property Rights: In Didden v. Village of Port Chester, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion affirming Port Chester’s condemnation of land which plaintiff Bart Didden planned to build a pharmacy on. Didden had been approached by a politically connected developer who demanded either $800,000 from Didden or 50% stake in his pharmacy. When Didden did not comply, Port Chester condemned the land the very next day through eminent domain.

These are just some of the serious questions that Sotomayor’s record raises. Her view of judging must be carefully and fully explored by the Senate.

Quick Hits:

  • Effectively nationalizing the company, the United States is expected to own 70% of General Motors with most of the rest of the company in the hands of a union trust fund.
  • President Obama’s campaign to cut health costs by $2 trillion over the next decade could violate the nation’s antitrust laws if the nation’s doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and drug makers get together and agree on a strategy to hold down prices and reduce the growth of health spending.
  • The House Resources Committee is circulating legislation that would raise the royalties companies pay to drill on federal lands from 12.5 to 18.75 percent and shorten lease terms from 10 to five years.
  • Global warming concerns have no place in the Pentagon’s upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review.
  • A South Korean newspaper reports that American spy satellites have detected activity at a North Korean plant that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel to make weapons-grade plutonium and North Korea threatened a military response to South Korean participation in a U.S.-led program to seize weapons of mass destruction.