Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mr. McCarthy it is absolutely wrong to call people liars while you are lying.

I want to only address a few of Andrew C. McCarthy's mistakes in his piece in the National Review Online today. Mr. McCarthy it is absolutely wrong to call people liars while you are lying.

Mr. McCarthy writes:

"We must heartily agree with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s observation that a 'wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases' — even if we’ve spent our professional lives denying that simple truth."

I am not a lawyer but I can read and then apply that knowledge to the world. Justice O'Connor's statement on its face is nice but does it square will reality? Unless the justices of the Supreme Court are not wise it seems that nine wise judges don't always arrive at the same conclusion. Judge Sotomayor's now infamous "wise latina" speech while sometimes not very artfully written contains some very true ideas. In the speech, addressing Justice O'Connor's statement Judge Sotomayor asserts that there "can never be a universal definition of wise". I would agree that there is no absolute way to define "wise." In general two people can arrive at differing opinions or conclusions and both be wise and correct. Yes.

"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." One of only a few statements that made the world stop eight years after it was spoken. Mr. McCarthy writes,

"The notion that a “wise Latina” or a wise fill-in-the-racial/ethnic/gender group will make better decisions than judges drawn from other categories of Americans — especially white men — is repulsive."

What is repulsive is that the ops research people discard context or they don't understand context. The title of the judge's speech is "A Latina Judge's Voice". The speech took place at a conference titled "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation." The context of this area of the speech is in the area discrimination. Prior to this infamous line the Judge cites research that finds female judges are more likely to "uphold women's claims in sex discrimination cases and criminal defendants' claims in search and seizure cases" or "grant a protective order against a father's visitation rights." In this context I believe the "wise latina" is fine.

Mr. McCarthy repeats the ridiculous claim that Judge Sotomayor on the topic of abortion supports the argument "that the denial of such funding to low-income women is tantamount to slavery." This is not true. No one has made that claim. The Associated Press researched this claim and found:

"The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund board, along with three other organizations, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that banning taxpayer-funded abortions discriminated against poor minority women. At the time, Sotomayor served on the group's board of directors.

There is no connection to slavery in that brief. After the Supreme Court upheld the Illinois law, however, the PRLDEF joined 285 other civil rights asking the court to reconsider. That document does draw a link between abortion rights and slavery, but not quite as explicitly as Graham said.

"Just as Dred Scott v. Sanford refused citizenship to black people, these opinions strip the poor of meaningful citizenship under fundamental law," the documents say.

The Dred Scott case ruled that slaves are not citizens.

In the abortion case, the civil rights groups argued that, under the Constitution, treating people differently because they are black is the same as treating them differently because they are poor. By citing the Dred Scott case, the lawyers clearly sought to draw a parallel between denying abortion access and slavery. But they did not argue that denying poor women access to free abortions was a form of slavery."

Finally, is Judge Sotomayor a "judicial activist"? How would I know. How would Mr. McCarthy know. His evidence is weak and misleading, his favorite kind. He quotes Judge Sotomayor, "court of appeals is where policy is made.” That is outrageous until you understand the context of the statement. The context is that the appellate court is where the laws are interpreted and developed to be applied to a broad class of cases. Watch the longer clip on this topic.

Context matters and truth matters. This process is too important to be fooled by lies.
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