If you’ve been following the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the term “reverse-racist” has undoubtedly appeared in a story you’ve read. Rush Limbaugh branded Sotomayor a ‘reverse-racist’ on his radio show, while Newt Gingrich labeled her a racist when he posted a statement on his Twitter account.
Some right wing groups claim that Sotomayor is a judicial activist who will bend the law based on her own personal views.
Wendy Long of The Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative-leaning organization involved with judicial nominations, sent a letter to Senators yesterday outlining these concerns:
“Judge Sotomayor challenges the belief that the law needs to be knowable and predictable . . .”
Long accused Sotomayor of embracing judicial activism, and claims that “when judges drive such change, based not on the written Constitution and laws enacted by the people, judges use their own sense of personal "justice," based on their own experiences, personal views, feelings, and backgrounds.”
Sadly, the facts get in the way of Long’s argument. Take, for instance, Sotomayor’s ruling in the case of Pappas v. Giuliani. In short, the case involved Thomas Pappas, an employee of the New York City Police Department, who was fired for mailing racially offensive, anonymous letters to organizations that had solicited him for donations.
A reverse-racist, judicial activist, such as Sotomayor, must have ruled in favor of the city, claiming that Thomas violated the rights of others through his offensive remarks, right?
Wrong. It turns out that Judge Sotomayor did exactly what Wendy Long would have wanted―she made her ruling based “on the written Constitution and laws enacted by the people.” Citing the NYCLU’s briefing on the case, Sotomayor and her Second Circuit panel concluded that:
“The reduced free-speech protections accorded to public-employee speech related to the workplace also extended to private and anonymous speech by employees that took place away from the workplace and that was unrelated to the workplace”
Rather than let her personal beliefs get in the way of her ruling, Sotomayor upheld one of America's oldest laws by defending a bigot’s right to be a bigot.