Compelling Personal Story

May 26, 2009

With Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court comes a flashback to last year’s election; i.e., a young minority who was raised in poverty, aspired to make something of themself, and thrived in law school.  It sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?  I am a Disney fan, and as one I love the under dog story which ends in a slow clap and a “happily ever after.”  However, this is real life and a “good story” should not enter the conversation when it comes to Supreme Court Justices.  Just ask Congress circa 1991 with the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.  If there is one story which diserves the title of “compelling” it is that of Justice Thomas.  Thomas’ story was rarely mentioned and his story of growing up in the segregated south was only used against him.  Thomas was seen as someone who left his roots behind him, and became a slave to the “white-man.”  Here are some examples of what was said about Justice Thomas:

Historian John Henrik Clarke called Thomas: A “frustrated slave crawling back to the plantation.”

Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders publicly called Justice Thomas an “Uncle Tom” (see Washington Post, May 2, 1995);

The ability to sit on a bench has very little to do with how “in-touch” you are with the common man, and has everything to do with the application of the precendent law before you.  Let us hope that Sotomayor’s ability to do so is analyzed thoroughly by Congress.  Something tells me they will, again, drop the ball, and those who actually ask questions will be villified as racists



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