June 5, 2009

Judge Sotomayor and the Diversity Crowd

The diversity crowd doesn’t really believe in diversity. In fact, what they’re really aiming for is conformity of opinion. They expect that members of racial and ethnic groups will adhere to liberal orthodoxy, and woe to those who don’t fall into line. If Judge Sotomayor were a conservative or the nominee of a Republican president, we’d be hearing that she wasn’t an “authentic” Latina at all.

I recall similar arguments used by my critics when I was the first Latina nominated to a U.S. Cabinet back in 2001. You’re only celebrated as the “first” by the diversity crowd when you’re the first Democrat. Just ask Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Spencer Abraham, Elaine Chao, Bobby Jindal, or Michael Steele.

As someone whose profession entails having opinions, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by how often I’ve been asked what I think about Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court. What is surprising, however, is that many of those asking the question seemed less interested in my analysis of the judge’s judicial record than in whether I felt any special pride in her appointment because of our shared ethnicity.

I could see their puzzlement as I recounted some of Judge Sotomayor’s rulings. I was clearly missing the point of their inquiry: She’s an Hispanic woman; I’m an Hispanic woman. We both grew up in disadvantaged circumstances but managed to overcome our humble beginnings. We must be simpatico, right? Wrong.

Apparently it comes as a surprise to some people, but not all Hispanics (or women) think alike. Why should race, ethnicity, gender, or even class determine one’s point of view on political or legal issues? What’s more, when it comes to Hispanics, there is often not even a single, shared culture that might create a common bond.

As L.A. Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez recently pointed out, most of the people described as Hispanics – or Latinos, the term Rodriquez prefers – don’t identify with the catch-all term, but think of themselves in terms of their national origin (Mexican, El Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, etc.). Not surprisingly, most immigrants regard their country of origin as important in their identity.

But for most Hispanics who were born in the U.S., our primary identity is as Americans. In the largest poll of its kind in 2002, nearly 60 percent of third-generation Hispanics used the term “American” as either the only or first term to describe themselves, and 97 percent said they use American to identify themselves at least some of the time.

Still, the media and most politicians seem to think Sotomayor’s ethnic heritage and gender are relevant to the story of her Supreme Court nomination. She’s the first female Hispanic to be named to the highest court in the land, and that must mean something, the thinking goes. But what? Frankly, it was only a matter of time before an Hispanic reached the Court. True barriers – meaning disqualifications based on race, ethnicity or gender – simply don’t exist anymore.

Most ordinary Americans seem to have caught on to this phenomenon faster than elites, which may be why they are becoming increasingly skeptical of the idea that we need government policies to enforce “diversity.” A new Quinnipiac University poll taken after the Sotomayor nomination shows that 70 percent of Americans are opposed to granting preferences to minorities or women in hiring in order to promote diversity. Even members of some of the groups granted such preferential treatment seem unenthusiastic about it. Hispanics, for example, overwhelmingly oppose preferential treatment in government hiring in order to promote diversity, 58 to 38 percent. But they split more evenly when the question is phrased in the more nebulous terms of “affirmative action” in hiring, promotions, or college admissions, with 48 percent opposing and 47 percent favoring affirmative action for Hispanics.

Which brings me back to Judge Sotomayor’s nomination and my reaction to it. I doubt that those clamoring for more diversity on the Court would be thrilled if the nominee were an Hispanic (or Asian or black or Muslim or gay) woman whose views were closer to Justice Antonin Scalia’s than Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. I don’t remember many diversity devotees cheering Clarence Thomas’ appointment – even though his life story trumps Sotomayor’s in the overcoming hardship category.

The next time someone asks me what I think about the Sotomayor pick, I’ll say: It’s not about a black president picking an Hispanic woman to replace a white man on the court. It’s about a liberal president choosing a liberal jurist to replace a retiring liberal justice. It’s not diversity; it’s more of the same.


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.