Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Supreme Court Nomination and Gay Marriage

Incoming and outgoing.
A single vote decides most issues.

Choosing Sonia Sotomayor, a woman of Puerto Rican descent who was raised in the projects of New York is a bold Supreme Court nomination by President Obama. She would be the nation's first Hispanic justice, and interestingly, would be the sixth Supreme Court judge with a Roman Catholic background. That may get in her in trouble if right-wing groups like the Catholic League jump down her throat and call her anti-Catholic. You know they will if they detect that she might uphold a woman's right to choose, or be sympathetic to LGBT issues. Even though she is the embodiement of the American Dream, the back room talk from the bigots and their defenders suggests we are going to hear a lot about gay marriage in the coming battle for her confirmation.

Two anti-gay conservative organizations are preparing for pitched battle to prevent a triple threat like her from ascending the marble steps up to the Supreme Court. The first is the so-called Judicial Confirmation Network which says: "She thinks that judges should dictate policy and that one’s sex, race and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench." Spokesperson Wendy Long added, "Judge Sotomayor is a liberal activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written."

A step up from the projects.


In decades past, the abortion issue was the primary battleground, though affirmative action often came close to being even more divisive. That was last Century. “Abortion is in some sense a stale issue that has been fought over many times, but gay marriage is very much up for grabs,” said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a legal group. “Gay marriage will be bigger than abortion.” So the naysayers will focus on her ruling in a New Haven affirmative action case or on how she might rule on same-sex marriage.

Boston's gay newspaper of record, Bay Windows had an interesting take on her history, and included this personal quote:

Long-time gay legal activist Paula Ettelbrick said she met Sotomayor in about 1991 when they both served on then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo's advisory committee on fighting bias.

"Nobody wanted to talk to the queer person at that time," said Ettelbrick, who represented Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "She was the only one [on the advisory committee] who made a point to come over and introduce herself. She was totally interested [in gay civil rights issues] and supportive."

"From everything I know, Judge Sotomayor is an outstanding choice - fair and aware, open and judicious," said Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry organization. "I believe she has the demonstrated commitment to principles of equal protection and inclusion that defines a good nominee to the Supreme Court. In choosing Judge Sotomayor, the first Latino candidate for the Supreme Court, President Obama has made a strong and appealing nomination that should and will receive the supportof those committed to equality for lesbians and gay men."

And gay marriage is not even on the Supreme Court docket. It's going to be a nasty battle, and let's hope that it doesn't scare the right leaning Dixie Democrats into voting against her.

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