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Daily Show's Jon Stewart Mocks Pundits on Sonia Sotomayor

The Question Pundits Don't Ask About Supreme Court Justices

Last night on The Daily Show Jon Stewart predictably mocked all the talking heads on television who are frothing at the mouth at Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's Latina status.

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Sotomayor's talked about how her experiences will contribute to her decisions, informing them in the way that all of our experiences, as the sum total of who we are, inform our actions.

In one instance, a pundit posits a ridiculous example to illustrate the danger of having a Latina on the Supreme Court. What if, he says, an Asian-American employee sues his Latina employer, and Sotomayor presides over the case and rules for the Latina? He seems not to consider that she might do that based on the facts of the case alone! So what's his point, that no people of color should be on the court ever because they'll only rule for "their own kind"?

Seriously. Let's shift the question and address the elephant in the room. What about the predominantly white Supreme Court? How does being white affect how they make decisions? What exactly does whiteness connote, if not the standard which all other people must measure up or answer to?

Join The Conversation
sham28 sham28 8 years
mermei, thanks for the additional text. it sounds like he was trying to express the need for some caution based on statements she's made, but ended up putting his foot in his mouth with the asian/ latina example, which was painfully dumb.
mermei mermei 8 years
You may have read Sotomayor's in context, but you didn't read Gillespie's - anyone should realize that John Stewart is going for the laugh (and he's very funny), but that you should not trust him for the whole story. Here's the transcript: GILLESPIE: I haven't read the entire speech, but I think I know where the other comment... KING: She goes on to say, I'm a human being, I'm not perfect, but I know I have certain biases in my life and I try to deal with them every day and I try to look at the law. Sure, I'm not perfect, but I try to leave -- I try to make sure most of them are out and follow the precedents and listen to the guidance of the Supreme Court. A statement like that comes jumping out, why? Why would people seize that one sentence? GILLESPIE: Well, it was also consistent with President Obama's use of the phrase -- use of the term empathy, and it implied -- it played into a notion that this is going to be a judge who's going to have personal feelings play a role in judgment. And, look, when people come to a court and before a judge or a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, they don't want feelings to play a big role, because, you know, what if I am an Asian- American employee with a Latina employer and I have a case? Well, you know, a Latina empathizing with the Latina employer shouldn't side against the Asian-American employee in that instance. So I think that's the concern. When it comes to judging, we do need to set aside these, you know, any personal feelings. We're all a product of our upbringing, our experiences. Let me say I think it's great, by the way, it's a moment in history of the United States for the first African-American president to appoint the -- nominate the first Latina judge, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have some vigorous questioning of this nominee. Gillespie isn't saying that a Latina woman can't judge a case involving Latina's and Asian-Americans; he's trying to explain why people might be concerned about her statement that she could conceivably arrive at a different conclusion than a white male justice because of her background. Now, I think she dials that back enough that I don't think it should stand in the way of her appointment, but it is completely fair to question her about it.
Love-and-Sex Love-and-Sex 8 years
I've read Sotomayor's quote in its entirety. I think she's saying something more nuanced than her detractors and pundits in general allow: that her ethnic background contributes in ways that are positive but not the whole story. What I'm addressing here is how people have seized on it to argue that a person of color will not be able to rule with anything else in mind, when that is seldom questioned if the person in question is white.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Well said bransugar. Jon Stewart intentionally took it out of context and clearly Tres bought it. And people say no one takes Jon Stewart seriously for news.
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
I think that the idea that people of color can't be objective about issues is crazy but I also think it's a little hypocritical to be bashing all these pundits for having a problem with that statement when it was Judge Sotomayor's assertion that her background as a latina somehow would change her ability to rule fairly in the first place. She put it out there and now it's soemohow causing a backlash against people who are pointing out that her race should not be an issue in this confirmation process. She can't have it both ways
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
Right on, Kim. Yeah, we POCs can't be objective like whites.
KimBurnett KimBurnett 8 years
The implication that people of color cannot judge objectively is hypocrisy bred by institutionalized racism as epitomized by the Supreme Court. I appreciate this article. Thanks for the perspective, Tres.
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