David Brooks Tries to Bring Reason to the Sotomayor Debate


Good for David Brooks:

More than any current member of the Supreme Court, she worked her way up through the furnace levels of the American legal system. […] She is quite liberal. But there’s little evidence that she is motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude. […] When you read her opinions, race and gender are invisible. I’m obviously not qualified to judge the legal quality of her opinions. But when you read the documents merely as examples of persuasive writing, you find that they are almost entirely impersonal and deracinated.

This should be totally obvious. That it’s not obvious to so many speaks to two things. One is the deranged nature of Supreme Court confirmation battles. Consistent differences have emerged between the kinds of justices conservatives want and the kinds of justices liberals want, but it’s considered out of bounds for politicians to just say “The President has a different ideology from me, he’s appointing a judge whose decisions I anticipate disliking, and that’s one of the reasons I voted for the other guy.” Instead there are these incentives to concoct wild personality defects in the other side’s choices, or accuse them of deliberately subverting the law (“activism”), rather than of simply disagreeing about important issues.

Mix that up with this incredible race obsession held by many white conservatives, and it’s a toxic blend. Suddenly Judge Sotomayor’s participation in 1970s-vintage campus activist groups is a dire threat to the white race’s legal hegemony.