May 31, 2009

Steve Pomper

Obama, Sotomayor, and Ordinary

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President Obama’s Sonya Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination did not surprise me in the least. A liberal president chooses a liberal nominee—knock me over with a feather. I can only hope that, as with past Supreme Court Justices, they’re not always what their presidential benefactors expect them to be.


However, what’s all this about Sotomayor being more representative of “ordinary” Americans, on the bench, than, presumably, past and current justices? How does being reared poor in the projects of the Bronx make one ordinary in any case? Aren’t we being told her story is extraordinary?


I grew up in a small middle class mill town in Massachusetts. My father abandoned our family when I was five condemning my mother, brothers, and me to years of poverty. To my mother’s credit, we never felt poor at the time, but as an adult I can’t ignore the fact that we were indeed.


Here’s my point: I grew up poor and that did not make me ordinary. There were a few rich families in town and a few poor ones, but the vast majority of the people in town were within the traditional middle class—if there were such a thing as ordinary in my town, wouldn’t it have been those majority middle-class folks?


When the left speaks of ordinary it seems leftist-speak meaning, the poor—the liberal’s perpetual “victim-class”—the Progressive’s target constituency. If the president truly wants a Supreme Court justice who represents “ordinary” Americans, perhaps he need only choose a candidate who believes in interpreting the U. S. Constitution as constructed. If a constituency perceives a flaw, there exists a mechanism with which to alter it, and that mechanism is through amendment and not through the soft tyranny of judicial activism.


And what’s so great about “ordinary” people sitting on the bench anyway? Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and other founding fathers, with regard to their contributions to the American cause, were anything but “ordinary,” and it seems to me that regarding founding a nation conceived in liberty, they were extraordinary indeed. 


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