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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Sotomayor’s empathy

Lack of it also hurts judicial rulings

In his June 2 letter to the editor [“Sotomayor: Krauthammer’s hypocrisy,” Opinion, Northwest Voices], Mark Saporito takes Charles Krauthammer to task for trying to have it both ways on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s use of empathy in her judicial rulings. Saporito uses the New Haven firefighters case to prove Krauthammer’s supposed hypocrisy.

Actually, the firefighter case proves Krauthammer’s point regarding Sotomayor’s judicial approach. One can have empathy toward a person or class of people. One can also have a lack of empathy. In the firefighter case, Sotomayor based her decision on a lack of empathy, not on the legal issues raised by the firefighters.

The lawsuit was filed by a group made up of mostly white males. To Sotomayor, such a group could not have been discriminated against. She felt completely justified in arrogantly dismissing their suit with a curt, one-paragraph judgment that completely ignored the legal issues raised by the suit. Even one of her fellow judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals took her to task for completely ignoring the legal issues involved in the lawsuit.

This does not refute Krauthammer’s comments, but instead actually validates them.

— Jack Hurley, Bellevue

Laughable attempt to paint nominee as racist

The controversy over Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is simply the same old racism employed by the same old racists. First of all, since when did Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich ever gave a damn about racial equality in this country? That, in itself, should be enough to convince any thinking American to dismiss the whole argument out of hand, but Americans will believe anything.

I always thought it was quite amazing that the same people who were so nobly bringing “freedom and liberation” to the Iraqi people were the exact same people who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment right here in our own country. Now we’re supposed to believe that Sotomayor is a racist, while Limbaugh is what … Martin Luther King Jr. reincarnated? Come on!

What is it that caused the controversy? One sentence from a speech Sotomayor gave, which reads as follows: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Right-wingers are distorting that sentence to insinuate that Sotomayor thinks a Latina woman would make better decisions than a Caucasian person. That’s not what she said. They are leaving out one very important part of the sentence: “who hasn’t lived that life.” All she was saying was that a white person, who hasn’t lived the life of a Latina woman, wouldn’t know as much about a Latina woman’s experience as the Latina woman. Simple and true. What’s the argument?

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose Bill Gates said that he thought he would know more about the life of a white billionaire than a black man who lived on the street in South-Central L.A. Would you say that would be a reasonable assumption to make? Me, too!

Let’s drop the nonsense and welcome our next Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

— Rob Moitoza, Seattle

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