3 June, 2009 – Black Agenda Report
Like the campaign of Barack Obama, some would turn the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court into another occasion for nonstop celebration of the American story in which humble orgins and hard work win out over racism. While it is important to refute the racist assumptions and lies of Republicans, the Sotomayor nomination should be put into context. It should be compared with the other two nominations of nonwhites to the court, and should be the beginning of a discussion of what a just and democratic society must demand from its courts — more nonwhite faces in high places? More rights for corporations? Or more justice for people?
The bubble of false reality that is corporate media’s coverage of the nomination of Sonia Maria Sotomayor begins with the racist rants of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and a host of Republican senators and talking heads. It encompasses a torrent of righteous air and ink denouncing the racists, along with an inspiring story of humble origins, hard work and determination to succeed. It feeds the ongoing narrative of America’s ultimate triumph over old fashioned racism by allowing highly qualified and carefully vetted minorities to join its ruling elite. And it includes the view of places like Business Week, which designate the nominee “centrist” and a “moderate,” a view that corporate media revealingly agree is nonpolitical,” which means that the prerogatives of America’s business elite are not now and never will be up for discussion.
Absent from the conversation around the Sotomayor nomination are all but the most cursory review of her legal career before being appointed a federal judge by George Bush — a mere twelve years of legal experience, five as a prosecutor for the D.A.’s office in Manhattan, and another seven as partner at the international law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. The mainstream media does not publish summaries of the decisions she has made in seventeen years on the bench. Although much is made of the fact that she will be only the third judge not a white man to sit on the high court, few detailed comparisons are made between her legal career and those of Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Finally there are no attempts to discuss the unique, and not always positive role that the US Supreme Court plays or ought to play in the life of the country.