Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t take long to milk her "historic" rise to the U.S. Supreme Court by negotiating a million-dollar plus deal for publication of her memoir, a grandiose view of herself set out in print before she served five minutes on the Court.
The attention she is getting is amazing and entirely unwarranted. The self-described "wise Latina" is one calculating and shrewd Latina who has parlayed the ethnic politics that pole-vaulted her onto that Court into a road show. With the help of a fawning liberal media gladly serving as her publicity and marketing agents, we get the weekly headlines telling us where and on what stage the celebrity is speaking next.
Sotomayor’s long-existing plan to get to the nation’s highest court was well-organized, a clue being the swiftness with which she was able to complete complex Senate questionnaires used to vet U.S. Supreme Court nominees. They demand an extraordinary amount of information, including details pertaining to every single publication and speech going back many years, even to college days. It appeared that Sotomayor long ago created, and over the years amended, that vitae with her ambition in mind, and whipped it out like Matt Dillon when the time came.
Justice David Souter’s decision to retire gave a new Democratic president the opportunity to make essentially false history by appointing the first Hispanic to the U.S. Supreme Court. A White House-orchestrated fanfare, whipped up by an allied media, heralded the rise of a Latina to the Supreme Court, with the Democrats claiming credit for the historic event. The reason I say "false" history is a fact that will always irk conservatives: the only reason Democrats got away with this con job was because they blocked President George W. Bush’s nomination of the superbly qualified Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Using the very weapon they now hypocritically criticize as unfair to judicial nominees — the filibuster — 44 Democrats colluded to prevent a vote on Estrada’s nomination. After seven unsuccessful cloture votes, Estrada withdrew. He is not only a brilliant intellectual with unimpeachable integrity, but a warm, charming, dignified gentleman, well-liked by all in this business. So why did Democrats sabotage his nomination? Because service on a federal court of appeals was seen as a springboard to the Supreme Court, and the credit for putting the first Hispanic on that court might go to the GOP. Politics is dirty business.
After sabotaging Estrada, liberals fell over themselves to exalt a jurist that one of their own, Lawrence Tribe, described as an intellectual lightweight ("She’s not as smart as she thinks she is,") with a reputation for bullying. These deficits, Tribe argued to President Obama, would mean Sotomayor would likely have little influence on her colleagues and worse, no "purchase" on the mind of the all-important Justice Anthony Kennedy. Given that Tribe is, according to the liberals’ beloved New York Times, "arguably the most famous constitutional scholar and Supreme Court practitioner in the country," the portrayal of Sotomayor as a top-notch addition to the Court whose rise proves the greatness of America is rather a joke.
To the extent that Sotomayor’s "memoir" is peddling that notion to school kids and law students around the nation, it too is a con job.
The book offers a false tale of a poor Puerto Rican overcoming barriers. Just what were these obstacles? Yes, her father died when she was young. Yes, she has diabetes. You think she was the first kid in America who lost a parent in childhood? Her mother remarried well enough to move little Sonia into the middle class, into a nice house and into a private school at a very young age. She’s the first to have diabetes? I know paraplegics who are practicing lawyers. So all this stuff suggesting Sotomayor grew up in the projects with rats is really bunk.
Sotomayor admittedly lacked the credentials for admission to Princeton and Yale and was admitted to both as an affirmative action grantee. And if accounts are to be believed, she paid back both institutions by being a pain in the ass.
I grant that other justices have authored books, but not about themselves. A notable exception is Justice Clarence Thomas’s book My Grandfather’s Son, which is well worth reading. Contrast Sotomayor’s exaggerated deprivations with Justice Thomas having neither parent around in childhood, and enduring the most extreme and unrelenting poverty.
Indeed, one familiar with Miguel Estrada’s background would know that he overcame much greater obstacles than Sotomayor did, having emigrated to the U.S. without knowing a word of English. His nomination to the Supreme Court would truly have been something to celebrate. Sotomayor has become an Evita-like character on a "Rainbow Tour," leading folks to believe she is a path-breaking inspiration to them, and her presence on the Court will help change the lives of her fellow descamisados.
She clawed her way up from the bottom of the social ladder, determined to get to Washington ("Stand back, D.C., because you ought to know what you’re gonna get in me…).
She dieted, got a new set of teeth, and donned a new designer wardrobe for the announcement. ("I come from the people, they need to adore me, so Christian Dior me…).
She feigns modesty as if she didn’t plot every move she made, pulled political strings, and played the race card to the hilt. ("And as for fortune and as for fame, I never invited them in, though it seemed to the world they were all I desired; they are illusions.").
Don’t cry for me, Puerto Rico.
The book is an illusion.•