Stay Classy Debbie Schlussel

Or not.
Media Matters reposted the screen shot of Debbie Schlussel’s blog post. It’s pretty terrible. Racist, denigrating and down right disrespectful. She calls Justice Sotomayor “So-So” or “Sonia from the block” and compares her to Jennifer Lopez. She calls her a “chick” and argues that her life story (growing up Puerto-rican in the South Bronx) is the only reason she’s been nominated by Obama.
Oh, excuse me, Debbie, but I thought her thirty year long career working as an attorney and then a judge might have something to do with it. Even George Bush the first thought she was a worthy judge when he nominated her in 1991 for a seat on the US District Court.
Then there was her graduation summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976, and the six honorary law degrees she has been awarded over her career. Not to mention the numerous court cases and legal decisions she has ruled on in her seventeen years as a district judge.
But right. Obama just wants her on the court because she’s Puerto-Rican and from the Bronx.
The one thing you are right about, Debbie, is that the rags to riches narrative about Sotomayor is played out. She’s earned her spot on the bench with her career as a judge. We’re all excited that there is a woman being nominated, and a Latina, because the Supreme Court is starting to look a little homogeneous. But just like Alito isn’t on the bench only because of his upbringing as a privileged white man, Sotomayor isn’t there only because of her background. More from Courtney on this narrative.

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30 Comments

  1. smiley
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know who Debbie Schlussel is. Sounds pretty worked up about Ms SotoMayor though!
    But she does make a good point. When the opening appeared I said to an (American) friend that he would nominate a woman. I was right!!
    I feel that her nomination is for a large part down to her sex. Let’s ask the rhetorical question: if a Johnny Sotomayor had the same credentials (honorary degrees and all), would he have been nominated? Probably not.
    The only difference between Sonia and Johnny is their sex. Therefore it is right to say – as D Schlussel says – Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated in large part because of her sex.
    (I don’t approve of that, but I am not surprised.)

  2. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Who the eff is Debbie Schlussel?
    Great, now I know who she is because she’s written a blatantly racist and sexist blog post. Which was probably her goal in the first place. Now she occupies space in my brain.
    Someone should tell her Ann Coulter already played this game of “shock the public and rise to fame”. Without originality, she’s doomed to failure.

  3. Pantheon
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Is this why people on Twitter are saying things like “once you post something on the internet you should know that you can never really delete it” ?

  4. Logrus
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    She is eminently qualified, not only due to her professional experience but her life experience (including that relating to her gender and ethnic identity) are a factor of her qualifications.
    And both should have been considered. Women are half the populace and yet represent less than half the justices on the SCOTUS and Hispanic people are quite a bit more than zero percent of our populace but until she is confirmed and sworn they have zero representation.

  5. meganaut524
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Ummm, so the fact that she is highly qualified makes no difference here? Are you implying that Obama would have nominated just anyone off the street as long as she was a woman of color? The fact is that there were a lot of people he could have chosen from. A lot of people who were qualified to be nominees, and he chose a woman from that group that is incredibly accomplished and has worked her ass off to be that way. You are saying that because she’s a woman, she was chosen ONLY because she’s a woman. If he had nominated a white male I highly doubt people would claim it was because of his sex and race. I think it’s incredibly sexist to ignore her qualifications and claim that Obama is just trying to make a point by nominating her.

  6. Pantheon
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I agree in general that its good for the supreme court not to be all white males, but I don’t think it works to try to break down all of the country into percents and represent that with 9 people. I’m pretty sure there are more than 9 ethnicities in this country, and possibly more than 9 sexual orientations/gender identities depending how you count them. There’s no way the supreme court can ever match up to the diversity of the whole country.

  7. Abby B.
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I understand the feeling behind wanting to make sure the best, man or woman, gets the job, but honestly, I don’t think that someone’s qualifications for Supreme Court can be so objectively ranked as to remove all doubt. I think people too often make a false assumption that given a list of 10 people, we can rank them 1 through 10 from best to worst. Given that everyone has different priorities when it comes to what they’re looking for in a Supreme Court Judge, this might be impossible. I think Obama had a list of equally (objectively) qualified people, and made a conscious decision to narrow that list to mostly women. That’s the way affirmative action works.

  8. argon
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    You notice you never hear them talking about her judicial philosophy or her politics? They only talk about her being a Latina and that one quote about the rich experience of being a Latina woman.
    Surely the Repugs can have respectful disagreements with her judicial stances without resorting to base smears, racist innuendo and character assassin–
    bwahahaha! ok I couldn’t finish that thought with a straight face.

  9. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. People think there’s one perfect nominee that has to be more qualified than everyone else. And if that nominee isn’t a straight white man, something must be up. But there’s a pool of qualified people of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, etc.
    That’s another reason it’s so offensive to compare her nomination to Palin’s nomination. We know that there’s a great deal of qualified people to nominate. McCain picked someone who was not qualified at all to be VP (she didn’t even know what the VP does, for goodness sake). That’s why people thought that she was only picked because she’s a woman: She had absolutely nothing else going for her. But Sotomayor has more experience in the judicial system than anyone else on the court. It’s great that Sotomayor is Latina. That makes the nomination historic. But that’s not what makes her qualified.

  10. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s important that the Supreme Court represent the country. If you were to go to a remote part of the world and show them a picture of the current Supreme Court and ask them to make some assumptions about the population of the United States as a whole, they might say things like, “8 out of 9 Americans are men” and “8 out of 9 Americans are White.” Both of those statements are false. There’s literally something wrong with that picture.

  11. Meena
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I love hearing racist liberals defend minorities. “Jennifer Lopez” is the dirty word.
    That’s our “liberalism” and internalized misogyny.

  12. Abby B.
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I would love love love it if we were able to match exactly along percentages of populations, but right now, I don’t see it happening very quickly or easily. Though Obama managed to pick all women and minorities from the pool of equally top-qualified candidates, the overwhelming majority of top-qualified candidates are white men. There clearly aren’t easy answers, but if anything takes top priority in my mind, it’s education reform, from the ground up. Why is our educational system producing nearly exclusively affluent white men vying for jobs of power and influence?

  13. Sulpicius
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Not really on topic, but I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to refer to Alito’s “upbringing as a privileged white man.” Maybe all you meant was that he had the social privileges that automatically come with being white and male, in which case far enough, but my understanding is that he grew up relatively poor, certainly compared to, say, John Roberts. Doesn’t affect the point you’re making, but seems worth noting.

  14. jason_
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Great post–her qualifications are the most important thing and she has them, hands down. Quick correction–she served as a district (trial) judge for about six years and as an appeals court judge (one level higher) for a little over ten-and-a-half years … so it’s about seventeen years in all, but it’s an unusually broad range of judging experience.

  15. SarahMC
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations. And you only had a 50% chance of being right!
    Why do you consider male the default? As a thought experiment, try just assuming a woman will be nominated/elected/chosen for all the important positions on the planet, rather than a man (as you clearly do presently), and see how your perspective changes.

  16. SarahMC
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Our education system is doing no such thing. In 2009, anyway, girls outperform boys in school. In primary school, college, and post-graduate school. They do better in school and graduate at a higher rate than boys.

  17. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    What evidence is there that the vast majority of qualified candidates are white men?

  18. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Debbie Schlussel isn’t a liberal.

  19. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    ….and?
    I believe every day, everywhere, people get picked over for positions and given to men not because of their credentials, but because of their gender. What’s wrong with Obama – or anyone – choosing NOT to do that, and instead go with a qualified female candidate instead of a male one?
    It’s as if this is something shocking and new and WRONG to do.
    The day the world is colorblind, genderblind, and equal in access and opportunity, is the day I will agree choosing someone based on a physical trait is wrong. Until then, stop ignoring qualified women because they have vaginas instead of penises.

  20. emulsifier
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I’m gonna side with Sulpicius on this…
    Alito was far from the best example you could have used to illustrate your point. Italians from NJ aren’t generally given the benefit of the doubt.
    Other than that, spot on.

  21. Adrian
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Debbie Schlussel has devoted her career to being a second-rank Ann Coulter. She’s a lawyer who defends a variety of bigots in court, and through media commentary. Her most vehement type of bigotry appears to be hatred of Muslims. (With hatred of women who presume to play basketball as a close second.) It’s an interesting counter-example to the wishful thinking that close knowledge of what it’s like to suffer from bigotry will make a person want to help victims of it. Debbie’s grandparents survived the Holocaust. It didn’t make her more compassionate to other targets of bigotry…it just made her more determined to ensure that she, personally, has to take the part of the bigots rather than risk getting caught on the side of the victims. Perhaps likewise, she’s a vigorously anti-feminist woman; part of her audience takes her more seriously because she is pretty and dresses fashionably, and she takes explicit advantage of this.
    I knew her in high school. She’s not stupid, not at all. She’s just devoted her considerable talents to vicious ends.

  22. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    You are all wrong!
    Seriously, though.
    Meganaut: “Ummm, so the fact that she is highly qualified makes no difference here? Are you implying that Obama would have nominated just anyone off the street as long as she was a woman of color?” No, I am not.
    I say that her being a woman probably tipped things in her favour, that’s all. My example of Johnny Sotomayor did underline the assumption that “he had the same credentials (honorary degrees and all)”. My suspicion is that Obama made a conscious decision to appoint a woman; “first, draw up a list of qualified women, and then choose the best.”
    BackofBuseEleve: you are wrong. “It’s important that the Supreme Court represent the country.”
    By this I presume you mean ‘is representative of the sexes and colours’.
    My reply would be too long and would take us too far from the point I made. But the gist would be that your point is based on the idea that, now, (decided by who?), that sex and colour have some special merit. They do not – certainly no more merit than age, handicap, intelligence, beauty, wealth, health, weight, size, or the ability to speak more than one language.
    If the SC were to be representative of the USA, then it should also have a few people of below-average intelligence, at least one stunning beauty and a number of very unhealthy people.
    Oh, before I forget. About the photo of the SC and the assumptions: instead of a photo of the SC, try taking a photo of the Dallas Coyboys and their cheerleaders. The conclusions that others will draw about the USA will be equally wrong. Is that bad or something to be upset about?
    (But don’t beat up the USA: most countries have unrepresentative governments and judiciaries (by ‘representative’ I mean your use of the term.)

  23. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    SarahM,
    Hmm, good point.
    From a purely statistical point of view, if the pool of qualified candidates includes a majority of white males, then I would expect (in the mathematical sense) that the chosen candidate would be a white male. All things being equal.
    Correct me if I am wrong: is the majority of Federal Judges (is the pool limited to that?) white male?

  24. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    B.Atoureta,
    There is nothing wrong in making a political appointment, no.
    What is wrong is to make an appointment on one ground and then deny it.
    I haven’t heard Obama say ‘I wish to appoint a woman because women are underrepresented on the SC and I wish to improve my approval ratings amongst liberals/women/progressists.’
    If he had, I’d object! What I object to is playing one card and then stating ‘nothing to do with her sex or background, only qualifications count’.
    He (and others) cannot have it both ways.

  25. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    On my 50% chance of being right.
    Actually – and this is a serious point – it could be argued that the chance of being right (a woman is appointed) is less than 50%.
    Here’s why.
    Yes, 50% of the population in the USA is female. So, 50% chance is correct.
    On the otehr hand, experience shows that, what 2% of SC Justices have been women. So on those grounds, there’s only a 2% chance of a woman being appointed.
    However, what of “recent” appointments? 20%?
    Which figure is the correct one to use?
    [Apologies for the digression. I know, the question would be more appropriate in a Maths paper.]

  26. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    On my 50% chance of being right.
    Actually – and this is a serious point – it could be argued that the chance of being right (a woman is appointed) is less than 50%.
    Here’s why.
    Yes, 50% of the population in the USA is female. So, 50% chance is correct.
    On the otehr hand, experience shows that, what 2% of SC Justices have been women. So on those grounds, there’s only a 2% chance of a woman being appointed.
    However, what of “recent” appointments? 20%?
    Which figure is the correct one to use?
    [Apologies for the digression. I know, the question would be more appropriate in a Maths paper.]

  27. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    On my 50% chance of being right.
    Actually – and this is a serious point – it could be argued that the chance of being right (a woman is appointed) is less than 50%.
    Here’s why.
    Yes, 50% of the population in the USA is female. So, 50% chance is correct.
    On the otehr hand, experience shows that, what 2% of SC Justices have been women. So on those grounds, there’s only a 2% chance of a woman being appointed.
    However, what of “recent” appointments? 20%?
    Which figure is the correct one to use?
    [Apologies for the digression. I know, the question would be more appropriate in a Maths paper.]

  28. smiley
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    On my 50% chance of being right.
    Actually – and this is a serious point – it could be argued that the chance of being right (a woman is appointed) is less than 50%.
    Here’s why.
    Yes, 50% of the population in the USA is female. So, 50% chance is correct.
    On the otehr hand, experience shows that, what 2% of SC Justices have been women. So on those grounds, there’s only a 2% chance of a woman being appointed.
    However, what of “recent” appointments? 20%?
    Which figure is the correct one to use?
    [Apologies for the digression. I know, the question would be more appropriate in a Maths paper.]

  29. Meena
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    It was meant for Miriam, the “liberal” sharing the socio-economic and ethnic slurr with Sotomayor opponents.

  30. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I just like seeing a Supreme Court that looks like my country. I’ve written a community post on that already. It’s important for people to see people who look like them in positions of power. If we get to a time when White men empathize with the experiences of Latinas, gays, transgenders, people with disabilities, whatever, having 9 White guys on the bench isn’t the same as having a visibly diverse Supreme Court. Just like having a Black president gives Black youth the opportunity to finally SEE that they can aspire to be the leader of the free world, so does having a Latina on the Supreme Court show young Latinas that they can overcome all obstacles hold powerful positions. That’s called a role model, and young people of color don’t have enough of them.

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