- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Justice is supposed to be blind, but some Democrats want everyone to focus on Sonia Sotomayor’s race and impoverished upbringing when considering her Supreme Court nomination.

New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, warned Tuesday that as Republicans look to make inroads with Latino votes, “they need to be very cautious and careful” in attacking the nominee.

Democrats haven’t always been so sensitive. Internal 2001 Democratic Senate Judiciary staff memos to current Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, used race as a justification for rejecting Miguel Estrada’s nomination by President Bush to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Democratic memos, Mr. Estrada was “dangerous” because of his “minimal paper trail, he is Latino and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.”

Some of the most vocal opposition to Mr. Estrada’s nomination on Capitol Hill came from within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Sen. Robert Menendez, at the time a New Jersey congressman, argued that Mr. Estrada’s ethnicity was irrelevant to his daily work as a judge. But he noted critically that while Mr. Estrada “shares a surname” with Latinos, he had done little to help mentor young Latino lawyers.

Republicans aren’t above racial politics. In 2005, before the Senate approved Alberto Gonzales’ nomination to become the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, warned that, “Every Hispanic in America is watching.” A few wrongs don’t make a right.

Judge Sotomayor’s judicial record and views of the law are what must be examined, not the color of her skin or where she grew up. With the first Hispanic woman positioned to serve on the Supreme Court, Liberal Democrats are diverting attention from Ms. Sotomayor’s troubling record by playing the race card.

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