It’s after midnight. You’re a summer intern at the right-wing American Solutions foundation drinking your fourth room-temperature Honest Tea agave maté of the day out of an old Mountain Dew bottle so that your colleagues don’t mistake you for some kind of new-age Republican peacenik. You’re trying to figure out how to turn Judge Sonia Sotomayor—prosecutor, law partner, summa cum laude Princeton grad—into an affirmative action barrio chick with a fruit basket on her head like the Tropicana girl.
You may as well go home and catch some shut-eye—it’s not happening this time around.
A few weeks from now, after United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in, she’ll be modeling a custom Narciso Rodriguez for her Latina cover photo shoot after doing a spa day with Sandra Day O’Connor and Syrian first lady Asma al Assad at Oprah’s pad in Maui, and the player haters will wonder where it all went wrong.
Sotomayor’s confirmation is mostly a foregone conclusion, but she’s still drawing fire from conservatives who’ve pounced on her with accusations that she’s an “activist” judge—going as far as calling Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, a “racist.”
But those charges don’t match the record. The Brennan Center found that she voted with Republican-appointed judges 90 percent of the time in overruling lower court decisions, the Washington Post reports that her record over 5,400 cases is 59 percent “liberal,” and if Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh calls someone a racist, it’s a fairly safe bet they’re not.
So why can’t her Republican critics take a look at the facts, vote and then just pipe down?
Just like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wearing those lace collars on her judgely robes to let people know that she was up on Betty Friedan since before it was cool, the day Sotomayor accepted President Barack Obama’s nomination, she wore that chartreuse blouse under her black suit to let everyone know that after 17 years on the bench she still has flavor.
And that’s the part conservatives can’t stand.
Let’s face it—their idea of a “qualified” Supreme Court justice is a white male. They’ll settle for a white woman, or maybe a person of color who’s prepared to sever ties with their community. But they’ll never accept that Sotomayor, who’s regarded by the people who know her best as an exceptionally kind, smart, dedicated and hip lady and possesses impeccable credentials, is also someone who embraces her Boricua roots and still keeps up with the neighborhood that she hails from.