If John Roberts had been found to have said, prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, that he believed white males possessed any kind of superior intellect or judicial abilities, he would rightfully have been run out of town as both a racist and a sexist. Yet when Sonia Sotomayor is revealed to have previously made statements that “A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”, clearly indicating a belief that women and minorities are superior in the legal field. This is unacceptable.
But there is an inherent flaw in her view – a “wise Latina woman” is no more able to put herself in the position of others than is a white man or woman of similar judicial ability. A Latina is no more able to know or understand the experiences of a white man than the opposite – and, in any case, justice is supposed to be blind; decisions are to be based on the written letter of the law – not the personal experiences of the judges involved in the case. Justice can hardly be applied equally when cases are determined by the life experiences of the presiding judges.
“Racist” is not a term to be used lightly or without a full understanding of its meaning, yet when someone states a belief in the inherent superiority of “Latina women”, that is a racist statement – and neither racists nor sexists belong on the Supreme Court.