Judge Sotomayor — Target of Newfound McCarthyism?

Is it all right that Newt Gingrich called a sitting federal judge with a stellar record a “racist”?

How about Rush Limbaugh rallying the conservative base by demonizing Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions as racially biased?

Isn’t this more like 50s’ McCarthyism, bullying your political enemies with politically loaded names — even when they don’t fit?

There should be no concern about Judge Sotomayor’s prospects for confirmation by the Senate. Senate Republican Jeff Sessions, top republican on the Judiciary Committee, which will conduct hearings, is a former federal prosecutor and can tell the difference between political mudslinging and a real issue about a biased judge.  Her opinions, which I will go into in my next post, are highly regarded by lawyers and judges.  Conservatives should be applauding Judge Sotomayor because she is tough, judicially restrained, and respectful of legal authority.  You will see many Republican Senators honor her extensive resume of public service, her judicial philosophy and her meticulous opinions during the hearings and confirmation process to come. 

But in the lead up, before she has the opportunity to testify before the Senate, is it fair game to call her names, whether justified or not?  “Racist” is one of the ugliest terms to label an American citizen.  The spirit of the country is that “all men are created equal,” and while it is obviously an evolving picture, the ideas of equality are core beliefs in what it means to be American. 

McCarthy called people “un-American.”  And some of his targets indeed held loyalties to our enemy’s political beliefs or systems.  Others did not, but were tarred just the same until, in the most famous of McCarthy’s eventual dressing downs, counselor Welch for the U.S. Army interrupted McCarthy during televised hearings: “I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness….Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?.” 

Gingrich’s and Limbaugh’s conservative political philosophy includes fundamental truths as did McCarthy’s, buy they suffer from the same problem as McCarthy as well:  Power corrupts.  They have such power over their followers that they can at times cross the line into injustice, indignity, and mistruth without paying for it.  This is no slight against Libertarian or Conservative political beliefs.  There are many nuggets of truth in a philosophy seeking control over government, strict constitutional interpretation, and fiscal responsibility.

But Limbaugh and Gingrich are attacking now while there is no accounting.  When the hearings come and real analysis is laid on the table, their early words will look foolish, although they will have been disavowed or revised by then.  They would not want to risk a real head to head match up of ideas on this one.

At the end of six weeks of hearings in June of 1954, Senator Stuart Symington said to McCarthy, “The American people have had a look at you for six weeks. You are not fooling anyone.”  America won the Cold War against Communism, but we didn’t do it by attacking each other for political advantage.  It was won by better ideas facilitated by honest government and real democracy.

Taking this lesson forward:  America would benefit from an education about judicial philosophy, but personal attacks, on esteemed public servants without credible justification and outside of a hearing process, lower both the level of public discourse and respect for our democratic institutions.

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91 comments

Craig Chmiel
Craig C10 years ago

Tell me how many would be thrown out for the simple reason they belonged to all inclusive club be it male or female? She belongs to one which should be reason enough. Like many before her.

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Ken G.
Ken G10 years ago

"Bob, in no way did I mention I hated you but I had hoped to understand what your posts were trying to achieve. They seemed more like attacks and as I mentioned I seen that same thing from children.
For instance this line doesn't look like an opinion to me, "BTW, you should pull up your pants because your misandry is showing!!!" Am I misunderstanding that as an attack or belittling another?"
The reason I'm doing this in this subject is to show our differences in reasoning. For instance I wrote that I seen the same thing in children and Bob responded with he didn't need me telling him he's acting as a child. OK so if one were to consider the experiences in life I've been through along with what I'm attempting to accomplish with my posts, wouldn't it make sense that Judge Sotomayor's experiences will affect her reasoning. I made my posts challenging another's thinking and behavior because I've seen the destruction it's done in life. There's nothing in the constitution or schools that taught me stuff like this. It's from experiences in life. Most of the time dysfunctional behaviors control and manipulate others behaviors by distracting from real issues. Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh distract by placing the focus on the wrongs in the world to make themselves look right. Our society to me surely doesn't have representation in any level of government that represents the average people in this country. They represent their interests but hope might be possible with this choice

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Carrie B.
Carrie B10 years ago

Hasn't anyone noticed that Bob C. spends so much time attacking any who disagree with him that he doesn't really say anything else? Or at least anything thought provoking.

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clare k.
clare k10 years ago

bob c., "women aren't a minority." the point she was making is that women are under-represented when it comes to careers of that caliber. to deny this is plain ignorance. in the world of fortune 500's, politicians, and supreme court judges, women are indeed a minority.

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Lisa Tyree
Lisa Tyree10 years ago

Sotomayor's well-known-by-now comment was just the plain truth by a wise woman; as such, only an over-reactive idiot would get offended & call her "racist".
I think we may need someone like her who's come from a different place who hasn't forgotten the lessons learned & can incorporate that into her work.
Others typically unlike her have made mistakes that hurt people.
This has unfortunately happened in all areas of society, ergo people like her are needed also in all other areas where poor people interact with those in important positions to them in society.

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Bob C.
Bob C10 years ago

Ken G.,

No. It isn't a personal attack. It's my personal observation and I don't need you telling me that I am acting like a child just because I'm sharing my opinion with others. You should live and let live

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Bob C.
Bob C10 years ago

Ken G.,

No. It isn't a personal attack. It's my personal observation and I don't need you telling me that I am acting like a child just because I'm share my opinion with others. You should live and let live.

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Pat Prest
Pat Prest10 years ago

Gingrich is the last person on earth to call anyone a "RACIST!"
He is "hate" personified, and the biggest racist I have ever had the misfortune to hear speaking.
He should be banned from all the air-waves and never allowed to speak publicly again, he does more to harm any situation that may be fixed with some kind words and understanding, than all the hate mongering that he does.
Please, someone, anyone, shut him up!

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Ken G.
Ken G10 years ago

Bob, in no way did I mention I hated you but I had hoped to understand what your posts were trying to achieve. They seemed more like attacks and as I mentioned I seen that same thing from children.
For instance this line doesn't look like an opinion to me, "BTW, you should pull up your pants because your misandry is showing!!!" Am I misunderstanding that as an attack or belittling another?

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Bob C.
Bob C10 years ago

Ken G,

I'm just sharing my opinions of the way I see things. Don't hate me just because I have a different opinion than you.

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