5.30.2009

Predictable, Necessary Rant

I read on NPR about one of Sonia Sotomayor's more controversial statements. Sotomayor said,
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
That's really f*cked up. I disagree. I don't care if she gets confirmed or not -- I'm off politics. But this seems to me like 1) a bad definition of wisdom, 2) evidence that she's lacking a certain degree of wisdom, and, 3) racist.

It won't surprise any of my consistent readers that I disagree with her statement. But, man -- she really reveals the precise issue to me. If "richness of experiences" is the standard for better judging, and a Latina woman has richer experiences simply by virtue of her racial inheritence and cultural experience... well, I wish somebody would put together the "richness of experience heirarchy list." Then again, I guess going to Princeton and Yale does give one a certain "richness of experience," especially compared to going to a lowly teaching school in Michigan.

Soon we will return to epistemology, and the question will be: can you transcend your racial determiners when it comes to knowing reality? I will side with those who say "Yes, you can."

2 comments:

fenhopper said...

the only way i can get myself to write on my own blog is to put my responses there.

slyclu

Casey said...

Yeah I hate blogging. I'm embarrassed to have ever participated in it.