Will Latinos remember how Judge Sotomayor was treated?

August 1st, 2009 · 28 Comments

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor to advance Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to a full vote before the Senate. However, all Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the exception of Sen. Lindsey Graham, voted against her nomination. Notably, Senator “Cronyn” (correctly spelled Cornyn) of Texas, who represents a large Latino population (more than one third of the Lone-star state) voted against Judge Sotomayor, but he was recently re-elected and was likely calculating that this vote against her will not impact his own future.

I was able to catch this clip on NPR with two experts discussing the impact that opposing Sotomayor could have in the Latino political sphere in the future. My take is that Republican Senators who have chosen to oppose Sotomayor are making a bold calculation that could backlash. Given the current political climate, President Obama has taken a more centrist approach to governing than many expected, and Sotomayor’s judicial record has not indicated that her rulings fall outside of the mainstream. Throughout the hearings, Judge displayed an even temperament, defying the notion that she is an “angry Latina.” She has acquired the support of rank and file law enforcement, district attorneys, and even Republican Senators Mel Martinez, Richard Lugar, and Olympia Snowe (the voice of reason wing of the GOP). Considering that there are other bones to pick with the Obama administration and more progressive Democrats about health care, gun control, taxes, and possibly immigration, the GOP Senators’ choice to put up a fight regarding Judge Sotomayor is silly and rather shortsighted.

Back in March, Seneca blogged about Latinos and the GOP, suggesting that “the GOP has an enormous challenge in how to attract Latinos into its big tent.” Is opposing a mild and moderate Sotomayor a good way to make us feel like there is room for us in that tent? I don’t think so. But for the actions of these GOP Senators to backfire in the future, our community is going to have to remain engaged and not forget about how Sotomayor was treated from the “splainin” comment to the continued mispronunciation of her name.

Finally, I wanted to share this great segment from NPR’s Maria Hinojosa regarding Sotomayor’s name. Note Mark Krikorian‘s statement about the correct pronunciation of the Judge’s name. When will some people accept the longstanding Latino heritage in the US and give us the respect of saying our names correctly?

Tags: Barack Obama · diversity · GOP · racism · Supreme Court

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bex // Aug 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Yes, it will hurt.

    I predict that however it can be worked out (I am not familiar with election and copyright laws in these areas), any GOP Senator who said something inane at the hearing will hear it — or some facsimile or representation of it, played in both the Spanish-language and the regular media during the next election.

    Also, while it is just not “done” to bully a woman in all cultures — it is especially not done in ours. And some of those Senators were not just inane and borderline bigots — they were bullies.

    That may make things a big easier for those who were not on the Judiciary Committee (or for Kay Hutchinson) but in the end — they will be voting “No!” during a seminal moment in Latino History — for NO reason.

  • 2 Wise Latino // Aug 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    God forbid the judge has any vetting process. Everyone should have just puckered up and kissed her wise latina azz. Why should we vet SS when BO got a free ride? Are you kidding with the bullying comment. Does the word machismo mean anything to you? Wow there are some deluted people on this web site.

  • 3 webmaster // Aug 1, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    “God forbid the judge has any vetting process.”

    She did have a vetting process. Didn’t you read any of the reports about the study of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s record from NYU’s nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice?,8599,1910069,00.html

    She even said that her “Wise Latina” comment was taken out of context and ultimately was not the best choice of words.

    The irony is that you have chosen to call yourself “Wise Latino” ripping a page out of her playbook, while trying to hurl backhanded insults.

  • 4 Wise Latino // Aug 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I called myself Wise Latino because I thought it was funny. Wow! Slow down and laugh a little. As far as JSS saying that her comment was taken out of context….well…….what a convient statement for all of those caught to make. She used it 7 diffrent times as low hanging fruit to play to her audiences. Please Mr. Webmaster don’t confuse all of us with the sheep who flock to the leg of BS. As the article above demonstrates so well this is all about identity politics and I am not biting. You people go on believing what you will. I will continue to believe that BO threw latinos a little charity bone with SS and the best candidate was not selected. I am happy to see a latino on the SCOTUS but not this latina. I also don’t believe someone needs brown skin to represent me. What better move than to offer up a female latino knowing full well that any oposition to her can be played to race. P.S.- I am hurling the insults with my forehand.

  • 5 Wise Latino // Aug 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm


    Many places call themselves nonpartisan and are anything but. I have read on your very own site where someone has offered up a conservative nonpartisan example only to be accused of partisanship. Shocking.

  • 6 Wise Latino // Aug 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    If Mel Martinez, DICK Lugar and Olympia Snowe are considered to be voices of reason you really must be blind.

  • 7 webmaster // Aug 2, 2009 at 8:19 am

    “If Mel Martinez, DICK Lugar and Olympia Snowe are considered to be voices of reason you really must be blind.”

    No, I’m not blind. You are blind to the changing demographics in this country. Mel Martinez has tried to build a bigger tent for Latinos in the GOP to no avail. Olympia Snowe supports a woman’s right to chose. Lugar realized that Bush’s strategy in Iraq was not working while many in the GOP & Dem Party continued to give President Bush a pass. These members of the GOP probably have a bit of Goldwater ideology and aren’t from the Palin wing of the party, but if the Palin, Jeff Sessions, etc. is representative of what you want in the GOP, then fine. Go ahead and continue to bury your head in the sand, nobody is forcing you to come to this blog.

  • 8 Reyfeo // Aug 2, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Its a double standard “Latinos” want to live by…Latino on the conservative side is seen as ill and or incompetent (ie Al Gonzalez) while SS as a Democratically sponsored Latino is okay (matter how much you vette her)?

    …me personally, she’s not incompetent, just not the most competent, after all shouldn’t we strive to select only the best and most unbiasely qualified to the Supreme Court?

    I’ve polled my friends and most can see through this tactic of Barack playing politics with the Supreme Court at the “race (or National Origin if you prefer)” level. And before you jump in and say “well it’s what every President does”…this time it is different in the sense that we know why he chose her…because she is Latina and because he had to satisfy the American Latino population…Barack was starting to hear the rumble about his chosen few to key positions that did not seem to include Latinos. After all, the Latino vote is what put him in right? So, he’s throw us a bone…its a shame people can’t see this for what it really is…!

    Bottom line is she looks to be in…lets hope she doesn’t break anything while she’s there!

  • 9 Reyfeo // Aug 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

    …”nobody is forcing you to come to this blog.”
    Nice one Webmaster…In knew these was lefty website, but until you said these I figured you were open to dialogue on both sides of the tent…doesn’t look like you can do (handle) that here if this is your attitude.

    BTW Wise Latino, this is the last line of comeback when a liberal has nothing better to say. LOL!!

  • 10 webmaster // Aug 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

    “In knew these was lefty website.”

    If the above statement is reflective of the level of dialogue on the right, then the pundits are correct in that the GOP has problems articulating its message.

    The right is most certainly welcome here. I actually think that this Latino blog is not as far to the left as some of the ones I have read.

  • 11 Wise Latino // Aug 2, 2009 at 9:50 am


    What I am after is real “Hope and Change”. If we continue the identity politics we will truly be a nation divided. If we are trying to graduate to a new level of inclusion than whites, blacks, latinos, asians and others really need to get beyond statements such as…..”that seat is a latino congressional seat”- Baca. Or how about all the demand here for a latino SCOTUS? Or how about the demand here for MORE latinos come hell or high water. This is divisive and truly shows the only agenda is the “MINE” agenda. If we do not come together as a nation of AMERICANS than we will continue to make the mistakes of the past. Latinos and blacks are the biggest purveyors of identity politics. Anglos are more accepting of diversity than any other demographic in the US but I believe are tiring of the racism that is thrown back in their face. Please stop the boiler-plate rantings of the left? “The pursuit of happiness” not a guaranteed outcome is what we need. Your so-called dem buddies will continue to put latinos in the backseat with the policies they have created. The problem with the GOP is they got way off course with what they said they believed in. That backlash has started. So has the backlash of promises without follow through a la BO et all. If you think the current plan by BO and company is going to make a better world for latinos I gave you more credit than you deserve. Poor financial practices, illegal immigration, false education and allowing the balkanization of the US is what is killing us. We need to employee the education and self-sufficient system of the 1950s with the inclusion and diversity of 2009 to truly save this great nation. Or we could just get together for a BS beer summit translated into 243 languages of course.

  • 12 Khrish // Aug 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    The only people who continue identity politics are the rightwingnutcases. You can say what you want and vote as you like but if you think they are going to give up what they call “white priviledge” to be identified with you then you don’t know those Americans. they want you to go away.

  • 13 Wise Latino // Aug 2, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    “rightwingnutcases” and militant latinos are a very small part of the picture. If we “the majority” stick together and don’t let ourselves get fooled by them they will become nothing more than a gnat on the arse of progress.

  • 14 Wise Latino // Aug 2, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    If you think rightwingnutcases are the only people practicing identity politics than you must have missed out on getting your gubment coupon for your TV. The current half-black man running the show is Mr. Identity politics. Ask the Cambridge PD.

  • 15 HispanicPundit // Aug 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Do Latinos remember how Miguel Estrada was treated by Democrats? Few, if any, do. I suspect it will be the same with Sotomayor.

  • 16 Reyfeo // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:19 am

    …I’ll try to use my spell checker next time, maybe then I won’t hit a nerve.

  • 17 Anna // Aug 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    The Democrats seem to think that all they have to do to get our vote is to sit back and watch Republicans screw up. I will never vote Republican, but I have never been more unhappy with a Democratic administration than I am with this one. For the first time ever, I do not feel motivated to vote at all.

  • 18 Cockroach People // Aug 5, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Estrada was blocked mostly because of his conservative ideology. A few Mexican groups would not support him because he was not Mexican . Most of the fighting was among Latinos who didn’t want Bush’s “affirmative action pick” to be our very own Clarence Thomas. Unlike what transpired with this nomination, there weren’t a bunch of white dudes complaining about his pro-Latino comments or telling him he had some “splainin” to do.

    I personally think that people overreacted. He wasn’t that bad. he just wasn’t someone who had a track record with the Latino community (if he did, no one knew). That said, he would have been yet another conservative on the court–he just happened to be Latino. Sotomayor’s nomination is much different. She does have a track record with Latinos and has advocated for the community. Sorry HP, Latinos are much more likely to remember her treatment for that reason alone. Latinos are certainly conservative on a lot of issues, but their loyalty to conservatism per se is easily trumped by some form of nationalism. Thus, someone like Estrada is not going to get much support if he smells like a cacique or a vendido (not saying whether he actually is). A better question would be “do most Latinos even know who Miguel Estrada is?” I’m a lawyer; so, I don’t count.

  • 19 New American Dimensions » Blog Archive » Will Latinos remember how Sotomayor was treated? // Aug 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

    […] Latino Politics Blog thinks they […]

  • 20 Michaelr // Aug 5, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Sonia Sotomayor is the most qualified jurist ever to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that scares the conservative faction that currently influences and dictates policy to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her influence will not be trivial, in many cases like Clarence Thomas, nor will it be slanted like Antonin Scalia’s. Instead, her legal opinions will display the experience of all those years serving at the bench. Barack Obama’s first choice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court was brilliant.

  • 21 theKaiser // Aug 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Looks like the U.S. Senate read your comment Michaelr. She’s on the court.

  • 22 HispanicPundit // Aug 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm


    Good point. I do agree with your general theme, but then the question becomes “which Latinos are we referring to?”. If it’s the average-juan-nonpolitical-nationalist-kinda knows something about politics-but-not-really type, then I would say the difference between Estrada and Sotomayor is minimal at best. They see a latino face on screen, see that s/he is getting static for stuff they dont really care/understand and are bothered by it. Overall it bothers them at the time, but its largely forgotten.

    If, however, you are talking about the political Latinos, those who know why Estrada was denied and why Republicans are denying Sotomayor, well then, of course, they will remember more the Sotomayor situation than the Estrada one – but really, how is that important to Republicans any? Those Latinos were never going to vote for them anyway. It’s a “tails I win”, “heads you lose” situation for them too.

    With that said, another important difference between Estrada and Sotomayor is that Sotomayor was eventually elected, Republicans may have opposed but they didn’t prevent her nomination – not so with Democrats and Estrada.

  • 23 Cockroach People // Aug 7, 2009 at 5:17 am

    HP, Any group can be divided into the politically active and informed versus the average nonpolitical Joe or Juan (not just Latinos). The latter group may or may not remember anybody on the Supreme Court regardless of ethnicity. I’m not sure they would even know much about the the three branches. Heck, a good number of people in this country can’t identify the U.S. on a map. Thus I can agree with you about the nonpolitical group in that they are probably more likely to forget the specifics about Sotomayor and the proceedings. I can’t, however, agree that Republicans should not care about opposing her.

    My father is a Republican. He has pretty much voted Republican in every election, no matter how small or local, since Reagan. He is generally stubborn and unreflective about his party loyalties. But he has been extremely unhappy with the party not just because he has been left scratching his head (i.e. asking himself what happened to the party of Reagan and where did all these wingnuts come from) but also because he doesn’t get why Latinos seem to be the focus of the party’s anger (starting with all the immigration mail he was receiving from his reps and now with Sotomayor). Even though he is very conservative, he has managed to maintain a nationalist streak (maybe being originally from East LA helps). He doesn’t like Sotomayor much but he thinks she is being attacked partly because she is a Latina. My dad, of course, is fairly political but he is someone who is likely to vote for Republicans. He also is someone who does not remember who Estrada is.

    My point is that whether or not all Latinos remember the specifics of Sotomayor’s proceeding there has been a reinforcement of the image of Republicans as anti-Latino thanks to this proceeding. There are a lot of Latinos that **do** vote but know little about politics. This is especially true of naturalized citizens in the last decade and a half (the ones who don’t remember the Reagan amnesty). Many of them are doubtful about both parties. But do Republicans really want to alienate the doubtful ones? Remember what Lincoln said: “Keep a constant watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence.” Latinos are not being talked to in a way that will build the long-term success of the Republican Party. The less political group (not apolitical I should add) get a lot of their information from Spanish language media and in some cases community leaders. The only talking to they are getting is from media personalities and community organizers who are enraged at the perceived anti-Latino stance of the Republicans. Sotomayor has given them a lot to talk about!

    Should Republicans care now? Probably not for 2012. A former classmate of mine crunched the numbers recently. He says that Latinos aren’t significant enough in most states that Republicans have a chance of winning. If they can focus on those, they could probably even get the presidency back. There is a little flaw in his model in that he isolates the Latino variable which only works in a vacuum, but his general point is solid. So in the short term, it’s ok to not care about opposition to Sotomayor or the Republican race-baiting going on these days. But shouldn’t Republicans look at the long-term too? I almost never agree with Karl Rove on anything, but Republicans will never be “the party of America” if they keep alienating minorities. Is it not obvious which minority group is growing the fastest?

    I also wonder if there has been any damage among women voters thanks to these proceedings. Maybe the mujeres could chime in on this one. Are any African-Americans angry because of opposition to Obama’s first pick? En hora buena…

  • 24 Miss Karma // Aug 8, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I can’t speak for all African-Americans, but this one is not at all offended by Obama’s first pick.

    I am however concerned about his next pick (should that happen during his tenure as president) given the message sent by the majority of Republicans who questioned Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I also hope that Latinos do not forget how she was treated by them during the hearings.

    One thing (out of many) I respect about the Latino community is that all the eggs are not placed in one political basket. There are Repubs, Dems and Independents. I have been trying for years to alert my community about always voting Democrat when they too have taken advantage of the votes. I myself am a big supporter of third and fourth party candidates since 9 times out of ten both elephants and donkeys are in the same cage–owned by corporate entities.

  • 25 Anna // Aug 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Re: “A former classmate of mine crunched the numbers recently. He says that Latinos aren’t significant enough in most states that Republicans have a chance of winning.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Latinos were the deciding factor states like in Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. Democrats normally lose those states by huge margins. Arizona and Texas are also trending Democratic.

    But is that’s bad for democracy. If the Democrats don’t have any competition, they won’t bother to respond to the electorate.

  • 26 Anna // Aug 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Re: “One thing (out of many) I respect about the Latino community is that all the eggs are not placed in one political basket.”

    That’s funny, because I have always respected how black people are able to vote as a unified block. If Latinos had done that Arnold Schwarzenegger would not be Governor of CA.

  • 27 Cockroach People // Aug 10, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Anna- I was talking about the best case scenario for Republicans, assuming that all other variables fall into place. If they were to fall in place, then theoretically there is a way for them to win in the short-term without the Latino vote. Here’s a link to the numbers I was referring to:

    the question is about the rate of trending not just the fact that some states are trending Democratic; hence, I limited my point to the short term. In any case, I do agree that there is a need for competition.

  • 28 Ruben Navarrette says Latinos will remember GOP no votes on Sotomayor // Aug 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    […] on August 1, I wrote a blog post asking if Latinos would remember how Judge Sotomayor was treated in the confirmation hearings. I […]

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