Cool Sotomayor heats up panel

Sonia Sotomayor hasn’t broken into a sweat yet, much less a meltdown.
After three days of grilling, and baiting, by members of the Senate Judicial Committee, she remains calm under fire, methodical in her re-sponses as nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. She’s shown much grace in having to answer repetitive questions. Odd, how out of the more than 3,000 cases she has ruled over in her 17 years as an appellate court and trial court judge that the senators seem to be familiar with only about a dozen. Must be the Cliffs Notes version.
Her “wise Latina” comment of 2001 has by now been twisted into a pretzel so that instead of being inspirational for other minorities it is seen as derogatory to white males — something the all-white, male-dominated committee doesn’t take to kindly.
It’s because of, not in spite of, our life experiences that we are who we are. It’s frightful to think a body made up of 90 percent men from similar ethnicities and backgrounds decide the law of the land. But that’s a long history to overturn. In its 200-plus years, the U.S. Supreme Court has had 111 justices. Of those, two have been black males and two have been women. The other 107 have been white males — not exactly representative of the country they serve.
Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, the committee’s ranking Republican, doubted Sotomayor’s ability to leave her sex and ethnicity out of her role as a judge.
Sotomayor replied that it was because she was aware of her sex and ethnicity that she, like all judges, was obligated to “examine what they’re feeling as they’re adjudicating a case, to ensure that that’s not influencing the outcome.
“Life experiences have to influence you,” Soto-mayor said. “We’re not robots who listen to evidence and don’t have feelings. We have to recognize those feelings and put them aside.”
All that “feeling” talk made the men squirm.
Republicans tried to make Sotomayor look like a wild woman. Again, Sessions: (They say) “You’re a terror on the bench .... overall agressive ... abuses law-yers.”
Funny, how being tough as a woman is seen as uncomplimentary, but admired in a man.
Sotomayor calmly de-fended her style: “I believe my reputation is that I ask the hard questions, but I do it evenly for both sides” — which only got the senators more worked up.

UNFORTUNATELY, the vote for Sotomayor will likely be down party lines, no matter how many Republicans may secretly want the lady judge. Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, blamed the partisanship atmosphere on the most recent Bush administration.
On a Wednesday night news broadcast Grassley said, “I’m one who has voted for Clinton’s nominees, (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and (Stephen) Breyer, because qualification at that time was the only thing. But within the last 10 years, with the Bush nominees, there’s been a lot more partisanship than usual, and I think you’re seeing that carried over into a new administration.”
Sotomayor should not be appointed to the Supreme Court because she is a woman. Or because she’s Hispanic. But because she has been one heck of a judge who, because she is a woman and a minority, would help bring sorely needed diversity to the high court.

— Susan Lynn