Today, many of us are hearing about Sonya Sotomayor for the first time as the nominee to the Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Justice David Souter.
The Conservative noise machine has already started it engine of innuendo, gossip and lies in its attempt to stall or derail the nomination. The New Republic has already referred to her as Dishonest and Lazy. Fox News has said that "sources" report that she is not a very had worker.
The National Review used the terms "dumb and obnoxious" and even David Letterman, who should know better, jumped on the Sotomayor Smear Wagon with a sketch that protrayed her as being shrill, dumb and tempermental, without a shred of evidence to back up the claims, it was all unnamed sources and innuendo. This can only make you wonder, why are they saying these things about a woman who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton and in a short eventful carreer, has risen to the top of her profession?
Could it be an attempt to play to racial and gender stereotypes? Naw, the Conservatives are above that kind of disgraceful behavior. Oh Yeah?
Sonya Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican American who was born to a lower middle classs family in the Bronx and grew up a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. She lost her father at an earl;y age and was raised by her mother who worked as a nuurse in a methadone clinic. Sonya developed diabetes when she was 8.
She was a good student who now says she was inspired to go into law at an early age by watching Perry Mason.
She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton then became the editor of the Yale Law Journal. She then joined the Manhattan district attorney office and the Board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. After 8 years at a Manhattan Law firm, she was appointed to a Federal Judgeship by President Clinton.
One of her more memorable rulings was as a Federal Judge in 1995. She was the judge who ended the inteminable Baseball strike and salvaged the season. At the time she was lauded for her diplomacy and wisdom.
She seems to have a hallmark of independance. She has made important decisions which have made it easier for police to collect evidence and also made important decisions separating church and state and also supporting the rights of religious groups.
She is a lot less affluent than many of her peers. She has chosen to live in expensive Manhattan, where she owns a coop in the West Village. This is the only property she owns.
In public, she presents an affable fun loving personality and describes herself as an avid baseball fan and compares many of her moments on the bench in baseball metaphores.
Recently in a documentary, Sotomayor said, "We should applaud more frequently those who transform a lost life."
As Sotomayor saw it, she was not so far from her humble child hood that she was not emotionally touched when she signed her first judgement of conviction after becoming a judge.
"That emotion will never leave me--humility" she said. "A deep sense of humility. And a deep, deep senseof there but for the grace of God could I have gone and many that I have loved."
Perhaps in the last statement one can find the very essence of what the conservatives find so very dangerous about her. To them, compassion is a weakness that will used to portray her to the left of Abbie Hoffman.
You can believe that every aspect of her life and conduct on the bench will be scrutinized in the next few weeks in an attempt to find any appearance of a flaw that can be exploited.
Let the game begin!