My co-blogger Shani just twittered this comment on the confirmation hearings:
The GOP’s roundabout way of saying that a woman of color has to work harder to be objective than a white male does is pissing me off.
What pisses me off is this completely ahistorical sense on part of Republicans that the Supreme Court is and always has been a perfectly just, perfectly impartial institution. For most of this country’s history, the default perspective on the nation’s highest court has been that of wealthy white men, and accordingly, the court’s rulings have reflected the biases and prejudices of its members. The court’s Dred Scott ruling, for instance, clearly reflects the fact that a majority of the Court’s members at the time were slaveholders. Likewise, the Court’s ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson clearly reflects a group of men who had – like most of their peers – internalized a narrative of black inferiority and black “difference.”
That the GOP refuses to acknowledge this obvious fact is extremely troubling, not only because it betrays a (at this point characteristic) disregard for history, but also because it seems to suggest that conservatives see Sotomayor as “defiling” the court with her empathy and her “Latina-ness.” For conservatives, the Court’s long era of white male dominance was marked by impartiality and fairness. And now, with the possibility of greater minority representation on the bench, we have to worry about bias and prejudice in the court’s opinions. This idea – that minorities will sully the reputation of <insert organization> – isn’t a particularly new one (it colors a lot of the early commentary on the Reconstruction-era South), and it’s incredibly offensive to boot.