No He Can’t

No He Can’t
by Anne Wortham

Fellow Americans,

Please know: I am black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul’s name as my choice for president. Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a black president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is worth living. I do not require a black president to love the ideal of America.

I cannot join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no smile on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would have to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing and survival – all that I know about the history of the United States of America, all that I know about American race relations, and all that I know about Barack Obama as a politician. I would have to deny the nature of the “change” that Obama asserts has come to America. Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain understanding that you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom that we have been on for over a century. I would have to pretend that individual liberty has no value for the success of a human life. I would have to evade your rejection of the slender reed of capitalism on which your success and mine depend. I would have to think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the 12 million blacks in this country voted for a man because he looks like them (that blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were joined by self-declared “progressive” whites who voted for him because he doesn’t look like them. I would have to be wipe my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of people who have advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his administration – political intellectuals like my former colleagues at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

I would have to believe that “fairness” is equivalent of justice. I would have to believe that man who asks me to “go forward in a new spirit of service, in a new service of sacrifice” is speaking in my interest. I would have to accept the premise of a man that economic prosperity comes from the “bottom up,” and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into existence by the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who thinks the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying the most productive and the generators of wealth.

Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago irrationally chanting “Yes We Can!” Finally, I would have to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is dead – and no one, including especially Alan Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.

So you have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected a black man to the office of the president of the United States, the wounded giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and Jane Fonda is over – and that Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern must be very happy men. Jimmie Carter, too. And the Kennedys have at last gotten their Kennedy look-a-like. The self-righteous welfare statists in the suburbs can feel warm moments of satisfaction for having elected a black person. So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves, Black America. Shout your glee Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, Stanford, and Berkeley. You have elected not an individual who is qualified to be president, but a black man who, like the pragmatist Franklin Roosevelt, promises to – Do Something! You now have someone who has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But you have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine – what little there is left – for the chance to feel good. There is nothing in me that can share your happy obliviousness.

November 6, 2008

Anne Wortham [awortha@ilstu.edu ] is an individualist liberal who happens to be black and American.

Supreme Contortions

Supreme Contortions
By Sally Zelikovsky

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor comes yet another democrat sleight of hand–ignoring one reality and twisting another.

Obama calls for a Supreme Court justice who “understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

In addition to experience, competence, intelligence and a law degree, Mr. Obama is seeking a resume with the added virtues of empathy and the experience of having overcome life’s obstacles.

A close examination of a few of the sitting Supreme Court justices should shed some light on Obama’s expectation that empathy and a tough life will necessarily translate into the kind of justice Obama would like to see on the bench.

If, indeed, overcoming life’s hardships is critical to one’s nomination and somehow perceived as an indication of how a justice will rule from the supreme bench, then Clarence Thomas, would surely win the prize. Having come from probably the poorest background of any of the sitting justices, no father in the family picture, raised by his grandparents and having clawed his way through schools and life with only his intellect as a guide, he should be revered by the left.

Instead, he was reviled and maligned before stepping foot onto the bench and has been anything but lauded for his Supreme Court decisions. Clearly misguided, the left perceives Thomas as a sell-out, an Uncle Tom, who, because of his conservative viewpoint, does not rule from his heart and is not driven by the empathy and compassion he should possess based on his personal experiences. (Ironically, Thomas is more or less the conscience of the Court, often reminding his brothers and sisters of the Court’s proper role, ever toeing the line that judges should not legislate from the bench. He has often expressed discomfort with the outcome of some of the decisions but has made clear that they are issues to be resolved by the legislature and not the Court.)

Had life’s hardships and Thomas’ ability to relate to the average guy on the street been requirements for his nomination and accurately predicted his popularity as a justice, he would be batting 1000 in the eyes of the left. But the left perceives the second black man on the bench, who is from the poorest most dysfunctional background, as a big zero. Plugging Thomas’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.

When the Thomas story is contrasted with that of Justice Stevens, a veritable jurisprudential icon of the left, the sheer inanity of Obama’s reasoning emerges. Stevens, who is white, comes from probably the most affluent background of all of the sitting justices–the son of a man who made a fortune in the insurance and hotel business. He led a life of privilege and, according to the left, a life which should immediately disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court because a white man of such wealth and prominence could never possess the empathy or understanding to relate to the common man.

And yet, this white man of status, has proven to be one of the most liberal justices on the Court, whose opinions are praised by progressives. While he should be a big zero, he is batting 1000 in the eyes of the left (and is still going strong at 89). Again, plugging Stevens’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.

In reality, sitting on the Supreme Court is a man of little means and comfort, who grew up black and poor, and should, by all meaningful liberal calculations, be a superb Supreme Court justice, yet his opinions are condemned by the left. In stark contrast to this is a man on the bench of considerable means and comfort, who grew up white and wealthy and should stand in complete contradiction to everything the left stands for, yet is the standard-bearer for the liberal jurisprudential mantra of legislating from the bench.

We are left with a nomination process that has no bearing whatsoever on reality (the reality being that each nominee’s judicial philosophy and actual record are paramount), but on a perceived reality that a nominee’s past personal history is tantamount to his/her decision-making abilities as, it is hoped, will be the case with Sonia Sotomayor–even though it is certainly not the reality among those currently sitting on the bench.

Simply put: there is no guarantee that one’s background or station in life, let alone color, gender or ethnicity will dictate one’s judicial philosophy and, while interesting, should not factor into a Supreme Court nomination. Supreme Court case law is rife with rulings that benefit Americans of all shapes and sizes and were handed down by…white men. If we accept as true the fact that white men are incapable of handing down legal decisions that benefit minorities, then, taken to its logical extreme, we would have to go through the contortions of doing away with Brown v. Board of Education given that all of the Supreme Court justices in 1954 were white men. That’s how twisted Obama’s reasoning is.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/supreme_contortions.html at May 27, 2009 – 03:34:41 PM EDT

Critics focus on Sotomayor speech in La Raza journal

Critics focus on Sotomayor speech in La Raza journal
By Alexander Bolton
Posted: 05/27/09 01:36 PM [ET]
Senate Republicans investigating Sonia Sotomayor’s record are zeroing in on a speech she delivered in 2001 in which she stated her hope that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences,” including appreciation for Latin-American cuisine, “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

They are also taking a close look at the Supreme Court nominee’s skepticism, expressed in the same speech, about whether it is possible for judges to “transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices.”

Sotomayor delivered the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal published the lecture the following year.

Conservative critics have latched onto the speech as evidence that Sotomayor is an “activist judge,” who will rule on the basis of her personal beliefs instead of facts and law.

“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” Sotomayor said. “My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn’t certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” said Levey. “It’s one thing to say that occasionally a judge will despite his or her best efforts to be impartial … allow occasional biases to cloud impartiality.

“But it’s almost like she’s proud that her biases and personal experiences will cloud her impartiality.”

Conservative critics say that a willingness to rule on the basis of personal values instead of the law and legal precedent is at the core of judicial activism. And some Senate Republicans have said a nominee with a clear propensity toward activism would deserve a filibuster.

Levey, who has been in contact with other conservative activists and Republicans on Capitol Hill, predicted that the speech would be raised at Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing.

“I cannot imagine that Sen. Sessions and some of the other Republicans will not bring that up,” he said in reference to Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“It’s fine to identify with Latina heritage all she wants, just not in the courtroom,” he said.

The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal did not respond to a request for comment.

In her 2001 speech, after citing legal thinkers who called on jurists to transcend personal biases, Sotomayor questioned whether judges could in fact escape such prejudices.

“While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law,” Sotomayor said.

“Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum’s aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

Some Republican critics say these statements raise concerns about whether Sotomayor, who was raised under modest circumstances in the Bronx, would serve as a neutral arbiter in a case pitting a wealthy white male against a less wealthy man or woman of color.

In her most controversial decision, Sotomayor ruled against 18 white firefighters, including one Hispanic, in their lawsuit against New Haven, Conn., after city officials scrapped a promotional test that showed the plaintiffs more eligible for advancement within the fire department. The white firefighters scored much better than their African-American peers on the test.

Concerns about Sotomayor’s activist view of the law prompted 29 Republicans to vote against her nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.

“I think 29 senators voted against her last time,” Sessions said in a CNN interview Wednesday. “I think there was an unease maybe about her background and her tendency to activism. We’ll just have to go back and look at the record and see what most people felt.”

Sessions voted against Sotomayor’s nomination.

Have a comment on this story? Sound off in The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room here.

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