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Sotomayor Risk is Primarily on the Downside

Shailagh Murray and Michael D. Shear write that “An all-out assault on Sotomayor by Republicans could alienate both Latino and women voters, deepening the GOP’s problems after consecutive electoral setbacks.” But on the other hand, “sidestepping a court battle could be deflating to the party’s base and hurt efforts to rally conservatives going forward.” It seems to me that it should be easy enough to get the conservative base riled up about something else in the near future. I recall that as recently as last week, the conservative base was furious that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to torture people.

In terms of Latino voters, meanwhile, the problem facing Sotomayor’s critics is that she’s almost certainly going to be confirmed. And, once confirmed, she’ll be the first Latina justice on the Supreme Court. Soon after that, there’s going to be an inspirational Sonia Sotomayor biography for kids. Probably two, since one will be in Spanish. Responsible parents and teachers of poor Latina students are going to want to point to her life as an example of how if you work hard and stay in school, you can succeed in America despite many disadvantages. Indeed, look at this editorial in today’s edition of El Diaro (English translation here):

Tras la muerte de su marido, Celina Sotomayor veló por sus dos hijos. Les dio techo y proveyó el pan de cada día. Los guió en medio de las vicisitudes y tentaciones de la adolescencia en EE.UU. Como tantas mujeres latinas, es la roca de la familia.

La hija de Celina, Sonia, tuvo que seguir probándose en instituciones dominadas por hombres — en la Universidad de Princeton, en la Facultad de Leyes de Yale, en la Fiscalía de Manhattan, en tribunal de Nueva York. Cada paso requirió gran trabajo y una seguridad inquebrantable.

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Para la madre y la hija, hubo pocas latinas que pudieron servir como modelos a seguir y guiarlas. Hoy, gracias a sus luchas y su arduo trabajo, podemos decirle a nuestras hijas: estudien y podrán llegar tan alto y tan lejos como la juez Sonia Sotomayor.

They’re saying that when Sotomayor was growing up under difficult circumstances, there weren’t a lot of examples she could look up to. But today, thanks to the hard work of Sotomayor and her mother, we can say to our daughters that if they study that can go as far as Sonia Sotomayor. Senators who don’t fight and scrape against Sotomayor’s confirmation will take some crap from their base. But Senators who do fight and scrape to derail her nomination are going to become the villains in a story that a lot of kids are going to hear from their parents and teachers.