weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Sonia Sotomayor and bootstraps

There is a side to most of us that loves to see the underdog win, the poor person do well, or the batter hit it out of the park down three runs with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

We love to see the boxer who is flat on his back spring up at an eight count and win the fight.

We love to see the person who pulls himself or herself up by the bootstraps.

By that measure, if you’re looking for a human interest best-seller to put on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor is the ideal choice. She was born in the Bronx to immigrants from Puerto Rico and was raised by her mother after her father died when she was nine.

Judging from the accolades showered on Sotomayor over the past several weeks, you would think that coming from humble beginnings is the benchmark for the Supreme Court.

Well, if that’s the case, recall how Clarence Thomas was treated in his confirmation process. I guarantee you’ll not find more humble beginnings than his birthplace in Pin Point, Ga.

Thomas made it to the Supreme Court by a 52-48 vote in 1991, after he was man enough to call the process just what it was in his case — a “high-tech lynching.”

Think of Miguel Estrada, the 2001 circuit judge nominee whose confirmation was filibustered by Democrats to where Estrada withdrew. He came from humble beginnings in Honduras and arrived in the United States as a teenager with limited knowledge of English.

Think of Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She took her seat only after two years of procedural delays. And you can’t find more humble beginnings than being the daughter of sharecroppers who attended segregated schools in Alabama.

Interestingly, all three of these nominees are ethnic minorities. Two black, one Hispanic.

The people who put these three nominees through their living hell somehow failed to slobber all over themselves concerning their paths from the valley to the mountaintops.

Have you ever wondered why? Let me enlighten you:

The reason these three minority candidates got no credit for their individual journeys is due to the fact they lined up the wrong way on the Second Amendment — the right to keep and bear arms.

They lined up the wrong way on when life begins — at the time of conception.

They lined up wrong on how to make policy. They believe our nation creates policy through legislation — not through the courts, as Judge Sotomayor and President Obama seem to believe.

As George W. Bush said in 2004 after his re-election, “Elections have consequences.” Which is very true. President Obama has the right to appoint to the Supreme Court whomever he chooses. We should anticipate he will appoint someone totally opposite the philosophy of George Bush or Ronald Reagan, which is his right to do.

But please spare us the hogwash that if a nominee has a great rags to riches story, he or she is entitled to a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

If it were about pulling one’s self up by the bootstraps, Clarence Thomas would not have had to endure the most brutal confirmation fight in history, and Miguel Estrada would be sitting on the federal bench today.

The process today is about viciously imposing political correctness on the Second Amendment, the issue of life, and legislating from the bench, and viciously punishing anyone who does not comply.

Clarence Thomas, Janice Rogers Brown and Miguel Estrada all believe the responsibility of the jurist is to define the law of the land, not to create it.

In my opinion, it’s OK if some disagree with Thomas, Brown and Estrada. That’s fine. But we shouldn’t confuse a great human interest story with the merits of confirmation to the bench. I just don’t believe the fantasy that living a “rich life” qualifies one to be a Supreme Court justice.

Don’t kid yourself, folks. It’s only a facade. According to the oath that a judge is administered, one’s empathy is not the standard.

I, (name), do solemnly swear/or affirm that I will administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. And that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (title), under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.

As admirable as it is to see Judge Sotomayor and Judge Thomas get to where they are today, when they place their left hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the values and laws of our land, where they started their journey doesn’t matter.

J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com) is chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group. He is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes twice monthly for the Review-Journal.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.