More of the Same

By David Glenn Cox

The Republicans rant and froth at the mouth over Obama’s choice of

Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice, taking quotes out of context

and using her membership in Hispanic organizations as they try to paint

her into a corner as a racist. The left is giddy with diversity as a

Latina and woman was Obama’s choice, and of course women and minorities

should be better represented on the Supreme Court.

Jackie

Robinson was chosen to be the first African American to play in the

major leagues because he was, of course, African American but also

because of his amazing talent. Thurgood Marshall was the first African

American to serve on the US Supreme Court. Appointed by Lyndon Johnson,

Marshall had won 29 of 32 cases he litigated before the court as the

Chief Counsel of the NAACP. Marshall was, first of all, a champion for

African American people, but most of all was a defender of the

Constitution for all American people. His choice was not just an

achievement for African Americans but for all Americans as his presence

on the court threw long, towering shadows.


Sean Hannity and Rush

Limbaugh use quotes taken out of context to describe Sotomayor as a

racist. Keith Olbermann, on the other hand, finds quotes made by

Justice Samuel Alito and even archconservative Anton Scalia trying to

make the same point, that where we come from shades our opinions. But

it struck me as odd that while Olbermann was trying to defend Sotomayor

it was having the opposite affect on me. She talks just like Alito and

Scalia? That’s supposed to make me feel better?

The problem is

that with the Supreme Court, in most cases, they set precedent, while

on the Appeals Court they merely follow precedent. She was first

appointed to the bench by George H. W. Bush and promoted to the Court

of Appeals by Bill Clinton. She has ruled both for and against

environmentalist on issues, voting to enforce the original intent of

the Clean Water Act but siding against environmentalists on New York’s

plan to curb ozone emissions.

In her only abortion-related court

decision during her 11 years on the Court of Appeals, Sotomayor wrote,

“The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor

the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so

with public funds.”

Sotomayor has also upheld the Mexico City

Policy, which has since been overturned by the President. This policy

prohibits federally funded non-governmental organizations from

promoting abortion as a family planning measure in other countries.

In

short, she is almost an exact replica of the retiring Souter who was

appointed by George H.W. Bush. While she has much experience, she has

done little to distinguish herself as a great legal mind. I don’t think

she is a bad choice and under a Republican administration I might

consider her a good choice. But is this change? Is she our champion?

With the burning constitutional issues of torture and executive

privilege before us, is Sotomayor the best candidate the President

finds available?

President Johnson was able to appoint Thurgood

Marshall because of high popularity numbers and a filibuster-proof

majority in the Senate. So I’ll ask again, is this the best Obama can

do? To nominate a candidate with no apparent fervor in either

direction, a bureaucrat doing corporate America’s bidding. A Federal

Appeals Court Justice insulated and removed from the average American.

We

are far from being a post-racial society, but we are far enough down

the road to see that anyone of any background receiving the education

and experience can grow up to think like conservative white men. That

there is more to being a champion of your people than the color of your

skin or the pronunciation of your last name.

Dr. King dreamed of

a world where people would not be judged by the color of their skin but

the content of their character. This is where I find myself in

divergence with Sotomayor. We have lived through twenty of the last

twenty-nine years with right wing Republican zealots appointed to the

court with only the two of the most heinous and unqualified turned back.

Obama

ran for office promising change! He was going to change the way the

government does business. He was going turn us away from neocon

zealotry and given his first shot he appoints a candidate closer to

Alito and Souter than anyone now on the court. Where is our champion?

Where is an appointment that will turn the courts back towards the

direction of Thurgood Marshall?

How about Al Gore for the

Supreme Court, or Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? Kennedy is a legal professor

who has worked at all levels of the court system. He was named by

Time.com as a Hero for the Planet. We, as a people, were promised

CHANGE, not change. Since the 2000 election the Supreme Court has

become nothing more than a right wing rubber stamp. We deserve new

blood and new thinking, a champion of the people and of the

Constitution. The Republicans are going to howl no matter who Obama

selects, so why not give them something to really howl about?

Imagine

the sweet irony of Justice Albert Gore on the Supreme Court; imagine

the Exxon executives trying to sleep at night. Imagine a country where

the people have a representative on the court. Imagine Justice Dennis

Kucinich on the court, an advocate for peace and for jobs and for

workers. You see, it is not so hard. There are lots of people qualified

and more than qualified to do a hell of a job, to throw the brakes on

the direction of the court and turn it around.

Sotomayor might

make a fine justice, but Jackie Robinson didn’t make it to the majors

because he was merely expected to be a fine second baseman for the

Dodgers. It was because he had the trappings of greatness. Roberto

Clemente is remembered for his great baseball talents but even more for

his greatness of person. He wasn’t just a credit to the Latino

community or to baseball but to humanity as a whole.

Sotomayor’s

record on the Appeals Court shows that she works inside the system to

protect the system. She does not sway from the straight and narrow, nor

does she tarry in carrying the corporate water. She’s not the worst

choice that could have been made, but she is certainly not the best

choice that Obama could have made. She is more of the same game. She is

no Caesar Chavez or Che Guevara. She’s not even Luis Aparicio; she is

closer to Clarence Thomas or Eddie Gaedel.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.