By Gregory Moore
I was watching Steve Harvey on BET last night and I have to admit; his stand up was funny as all get out.
In his one man bit, Harvey talked about who he was going to vote for and a conversation that he had on a flight from the East coast back to Los Angeles. In the conversation, Harvey tells his audience that a white gentleman asked him who he was going to vote for and Harvey said that he was voting for Barack Obama.
“Steve, I am just wondering,” the passenger said. “is the reason why you voting for him is because he’s black? Don’t you think that smacks of reverse racism?”
Harvey had the ultimate come back line.
“Let me ask you this,” Harvey says. “is the reason why I’m voting for him the same reason why you ARE NOT voting for him?”
The audience bursts out in laughter and of course everyone got the message.
And let’s be honest about how Obama got elected. A large number of voters, both black and white, and Latino and Asian, and liberal and conservative, gay and straight, voted for him.
Fast forward a bit.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor said something in a 2001 speech that has Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham and Rush Limbaugh just salivating.
Judge Sotomayor’s controversial statement, when taken out of context, can indeed be considered damaging. However, as is a common practice in the media realm, readers and listeners are not afforded the whole gist of the context. Many talking heads, like Limbaugh and Newt subscribe to the old Southern Baptist preacher complex of lifting just a small passage from the biblical text and then try to fit it into what they are harping about.
To be fair, here is the paragraph ABOVE and BELOW the ‘controversial’ paragraph that is italicized:
” In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.”
“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
“Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”
Now unlike most of the other bloggers and writers out there on the net, I’ve also included the whole speech that I found on the UC Berkley website because I believe being fully informed.
Here’s what I found out just from reading her speech for myself: she’s an enlightened individual who is both compassionate and yet genuine in being fair when it comes to case law.
An impartial judge is I think what they call a person of that make up, am I correct?
But yet the so-called Republicans who have a voice don’t see it as such. They would rather harp on that middle paragraph and talk about the substantive language in her speech in which she says ” I need not remind you that Justice Clarence Thomas represents a part but not the whole of African-American thought on many subjects. Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, ‘to judge is an exercise of power’ and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow of Harvard Law School, states ‘there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives — no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging,’ I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that — it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.”
Everyone on the high court brings a set of luggage with them. That luggage is their life experiences. Whether that person be Sandra Day O’Conner or Clarence Thomas, David Suttor or Judge Sotomayor, everyone on that court is going to weigh each case carefully and also use their life experiences on how to look at the case in front of them.
How can they not perform their jobs without doing such a maneauver? They cannot and nobody should be trying to hold any nominee to a Draconian standard that does not exist.
But for anyone to label an accomplished woman a bigot and equate her to David Duke shows me (and hopefully you) that being educated means you just prone to more stupidity than the average person.
Don’t let these guys cloud your own judgment on this judge or anyone else for that matter.
Challenge people like Newt, Limbaugh and others the way that Harvey challenged that passenger.
You’ll be surprised how fast they shut up and go back to the caves they live in.