08/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The GOP's Mischaracterization of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Day #2 of the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor have literally just begun and I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on yesterday's opening salvo from my party's ranking leadership (the Republicans).

My concern, as I pointed out in an op-ed yesterday that I penned for, is that I watched a party of middle-aged and older all-white and all-male senators lament against this extremely well qualified, poised, and dignified judge.

According to the ABA, analysts and many judicial observers, Judge Sotomayor is the most qualified judge to approach the Senate for Supreme Court confirmation in at least 70 years. This in and of itself should cause the GOP to take a long "reflective pause" and frankly back off.

Instead, the party that preaches about "colorblind justice" -- and rails against so-called "racial preferences" is going after a woman who, as she so eloquently stated yesterday, "studied every night at the table with my mom and brother" and worked "hard" for every educational and professional accolade she has received in her life. She is the classic "up by your boot straps" American story. One that the majority of my party loves to talk about as how we as Americans should build our lives without the intervention of government.

What I find most troubling is that Sessions (who is asking Sotomayor questions now at the Hearing), et al. have made a political decision to once again use the issue of race to divide our country. Sonia Sotomayor is being wrongly characterized as this affirmative action baby gone wild. She has been called by Rush Limbaugh and others a "racist" -- a "reverse racist" who is "angry" (I love that word because it is what they call us black women all the time) and who is out to repay white males for their advantages in life. Thus, they say her flawed legal decision in the Ricci case.

This is flat-out wrong, inappropriate and just not an accurate depiction of the judge's judicial philosophy or her incredible life story. Any objective observer of the facts would have to agree that what Sotomayor said in a moment of candor (e.g., her white male vs. wise Latina woman comment) was that diversity matters. That one's life experience shapes one's world view in life and in providing justice under the law. To say that Jeff Sessions or Orin Hatch or others as white men have not been shaped by their experiences and thus dealt with people, places, and life accordingly is silly at best.

I will be watching the hearings as they unfold this week and next, and I will be watching to see if the Republicans provide Judge Sotomayor with the same basic fairness that the Republicans rightly demanded of others when they brought forth nominees for the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court.

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