Dahlia Lithwick owns


by Jeff Fecke | May 8, 2009• Who does she own? Jeff Rosen, that’s who:

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

Emily, you are so right that Jeff Rosen’s unsupported whispers about Judge Sotomayor have become the conventional media wisdom in three short days. But more troubling still, he seems to have been arguing that female jurists are by definition “mediocre” for more than a decade! Here’s a piece he did for the New York Times in 1995, arguing that President Clinton’s “single-minded pursuit of diversity, combined with an eagerness to avoid controversy, has kept him from appointing the best available legal minds to the courts.” He then names the many, many white men passed over for federal judgeships and contends that liberal judges lack the intellectual firepower to challenge brilliant conservative jurists because “nearly 60 percent of the Clinton appointments have been minority members and women.” (Read: mediocre.) His single data point to illustrate that mediocrity: Instead of appointing a serious intellectual heavyweight to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (a/k/a “The scholars Court”), Clinton tapped “Diane P. Wood, a little-known professor of antitrust law at the University of Chicago, who is currently an assistant to Deputy Attorney General Anne Bingaman.”

That same mediocre Diane Wood is not only on every shortlist for the Supreme Court today. She’s also widely regarded as one of the finest judges on the bench, to whom other brilliant judges turn for reviews of draft opinions.

I’ve been busy this week, so I haven’t had time to put together my thoughts on Rosen’s asinine article which, near as I can tell, said that Sonia Sotomayor was occasionally brusque, which would be great if she was Antonin Scalia, but alas, she lacks a penis, so she’s instead a raging bitch. Oh, and she’s dumb, because she’s a woman, and obviously graduated summa cum laude from Princeton (winning the highest award given to Princeton students in the process) because of afirmative action, probably at the cost of a more-qualified marginal white guy. And then she graduated from Yale’s law school, where she served as an editor on law review — again, probably at the expense of a connected white guy. And then she served as an Assistant New York District Attorney, probably just because she’s Latina. And then she ended up a partner at Pavia and Harcourt, which probably just promoted her because of PC whining.

Then, of course, she was appointed to the bench by committed lefty George H.W. Bush in 1991, in a move surely designed to get women and Latinos off his back. Then Bill Clinton appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 1997, again, clearly as a sop to minorities. I mean, obviously, this woman rose from the daughter of working-class parents, whose father died when she was nine, whose mother raised her and her brother to become a jurist and a medical doctor, respectively, only because those damn minorities and women get all the breaks that white guys don’t.

Needless to say, Judge Sotomayor would make an exceptional nominee to the Supreme Court. She’s everything we say we want in an American — someone who pulled herself up by her bootstraps, who lived the American dream. But she’s a woman, and she’s a Latina. In Jeff Rosen’s world, that’s clear evidence that she’s a step below her betters. That her betters are all white guys need not even be mentioned.

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