Saturday, May 30, 2009

Race Issues Dog Sotomayor

Geez, maybe Sonia Sotomayor will become President Obama's Harriet Myers!

The New York Times has an interesting report, "
Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle." And William Jacobson, in "Sotomayor's Damned Statistics ," takes apart Tom Goldstein's analysis at SCOTUSblog, "Judge Sotomayor and Race — Results from the Full Data Set."

Looking past the "damned lies and statistics," check out
Christopher Caldwell's analysis of Sotomayor on race:

A few of Sotomayor's decisions may ring a bell. It was she who ruled in 1999 that a law-school graduate with a learning disability was entitled to extra time to take a bar exam. More recently, she forbade the Environmental Protection Agency to use a cost-benefit analysis in antipollution enforcement (her ruling was later overturned). But the real fight over her confirmation will focus on her role in a case about tests for promotion within the New Haven, Conn., fire department. Although the tests were designed to be race-neutral, the pass rate for blacks was half that for whites. So New Haven threw out the test results. Several white firefighters who scored high enough for promotion sued the city. One of the plaintiffs was dyslexic and had hired tutors to help him. Sotomayor was on the three-judge panel that okayed New Haven's decision to nullify the tests. The panel did so in a one-paragraph blow-off that ignored a host of pressing constitutional issues and was striking for its lack of empathy, compassion and all those noble qualities that are supposed to come with growing up in the South Bronx. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could well overturn the decision in the next few weeks.

Whether or not you like racial preferences, they involve a way of looking at the law that is sophisticated rather than commonsensical. If the New Haven opinion is fair, it is the kind of fairness you learn at Yale Law School, not the kind you learn in the South Bronx. Sotomayor may be a child of the barrio, culturally speaking, but the judicial philosophy she represents comes from the mandarin, not the proletarian, wing of the Democratic Party.

Affirmative action has been a revolution in American rights and in our ideas of citizenship. To judge from almost all polls and referendums over the past few decades, it is reliably unpopular. Judges prop it up. Since the election of the first black President, it has been a shoe waiting to drop. The rationale it rests on — that minorities are cut off from fair access to positions of influence in society — has been undermined, to put it mildly. Elevating a hard-line defender of affirmative action is thus a provocation in a way that it would not have been in years past.
This woman boasts some nasty race politics. But will that be enough to force her withdrawal?

See also, "Top Ten Reasons Sotomayor Won't Be Confirmed."

More at Memeorandum.

7 comments:

Doctor Biobrain said...

Uh, Donald? I thought you guys weren't supposed to be outcome oriented, but rather, think that judges are supposed to base their decisions on what the law says. Well, as it turns out, the law said that New Haven had to throw out the tests. And if they didn't, they'd be discriminating against minorities. That was the law, New Haven followed it, and Sotomayor confirmed that they were right in doing so. And if she didn't and tried to reinstate the outcome of the tests, she'd have been a judicial activist who violated the rule of law. It was also, btw, a unanimous decision by all three appellate judges.

But you didn't know any of that, because you didn't care enough to know. You just saw the outcome of the case and thought "Hey, she discriminated against white people" and left it at that. But if there was discrimination here, it was in the law that New Haven followed; not in anything Sotomayor did, which was in agreement with the law. Perhaps next time you should bother to learn about this stuff yourself, rather than just quoting other people who might not want you to know the truth.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oh, and another thing, what was the point of linking to the "Damned Statistics" post? Did you read it? SCOTUS Blog did the research and found that Sotomayor rejected claims of discrimination far more than she supported claims. And if conservatives were normal people, you'd think "Hey alright. Perhaps she's not as bigoted as I was led to believe." But you're not normal people, so instead you look for some excuse to toss the statistics aside.

And the best the "Damned Statistics" post could do was to argue that maybe the statistics didn't mean anything. That they weren't conclusive in terms of knowing her opinion. Well, no one said they were "conclusive," but they're certainly good evidence. And maybe the stats were bad, but that post you linked to didn't undermine them. All it did was to suggest that maybe they're wrong, without giving much reason to doubt them. And the only reason you imagined this to be an effective rebuttal is because you're not really interested in what the rebuttal said, but merely that someone pretended to do one.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oops, it seems I was mistaken about the Ricci case being unanimous. But all the same, it was rooted in the law; a fact that conservatives seem entirely unaware of. To them, a white guy was discriminated against, and they don't care if that discrimination is based upon federal laws that New Haven was forced to obey. All you care about is the outcome, not the laws the decision was based upon.

Donald Douglas said...

"Oops, it seems I was mistaken about the Ricci case being unanimous."

Actually, you're mistaken in everything you wrote here, "Arlon." Did YOU even read William's post?

Plus, the Supreme Court is likely to overturn the 2nd Circuit in the New Haven case. But you knew that, I'm sure.

Doctor Biobrain said...

"Did YOU even read William's post?"

Yes I did, "Arlon." Did you?

I quote:
"Statistical aggregation of judicial opinions certainly is part of the evidence, but not conclusive, for all of the reasons and caveats set forth in the Sunstein analysis of Samuel Alito. The actual opinions, not the statistics, tell us much more about the candidate."

It's exactly like I said. He's not debunking the stats. He's just saying they're "not conclusive." But nobody suggested they're conclusive. Merely that they're "part of the evidence." And that's exactly what Jacobson said too. For as much as he pretended to have refuted something, it was merely the strawman of conclusiveness that no one has adopted. I fail to see how he took anything apart. Seems to me that you're just grasping for straws that don't exist, "Arlon."

Donald Douglas said...

"For as much as he pretended to have refuted something..."

I'm not claiming to have "refuted" something. I say at the post that William "takes apart" Goldstein. You're not only dumb, you're dishonest. You apparently didn't understand what you read at Legal Insurrection:

"The emptiness of statistical analysis of judicial opinions also highlights the need to really understand who a nominee is, what philosophy she brings to the table, and what nods and winks (if any) have been conveyed to the nominating President. I'd much rather see the internal White House memos and e-mails about Sotomayor than spend my days with illusory damned statistics."

And that's exactly the point. Everyone knows Sotomayor's race conscious. Not only are you showcasing your deceitful denialism, you're in fact demonstrating the left's racial double standard, Arlon!

Doctor Biobrain said...

Arlon - Generally, the phrase "takes apart" refers to taking the argument apart and demonstrating how it's not true or invalid. Could you please explain how your usage was different from that? I assumed you considered it to have refuted Goldstein's analysis.

And how did that quote you just provided have anything to do with anything? All he did was state his opinion that the statistics weren't good enough and he wants to see more. And of course he didn't like the statistics, because they went against what he wanted them to be. But as I demonstrated at my blog, Goldstein's statistic was quite meaningful in terms of showing that Sotomayor wasn't ignoring the law to favor minorities. That was the main point of Goldstein's analysis, yet Jacobson ignored it completely. All he did was attempt to refute a strawman of conclusiveness that no one had, and failed to do even that.

And I fail to see what you mean by calling her "race conscious." Are you not conscious of your race? But perhaps that's the reason you haven't noticed that you're completely obsessed with Sotomayor's race, and won't stop ranting about it; because you just don't notice such things. And again, I think what you're really saying is that she's a pro-Latino activist bigot who ignores the law in favor of Latinos. And again, Goldstein's statistic strongly suggests that this is incorrect.


And hey, did you see my post about one of her big anti-gun decisions? I was just curious to know what you thought about her defending a warrantless search of a drug-dealing illegal alien who wouldn't have been arrested were it not for gun laws. After all, she supported the police over the Hispanic defendant. Does this make her a pro-cop bigot?