Reading from Lani Guinier playbook, Buchanan smears “quota queen” Sotomayor

Pat Buchanan referenced Sonia Sotomayor's position in Ricci v. DeStefano while deriding her as a “quota queen” who “practices race-based justice.” The issue in Ricci was not one of quotas, and the court said that it was bound by 2nd Circuit precedent to rule as it did in the case.

In his June 2 Creators Syndicate column, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan asserted: “Like [former assistant attorney general nominee] Lani Guinier ... [Supreme Court nominee Sonia] Sotomayor is a quota queen. She believes in, preaches and practices race-based justice. Her burying the appeal of the white New Haven firefighters, who were denied promotions they had won in competitive exams, was a no-brainer for her.” In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, the issue in Ricci v. DeStefano did not concern quotas; the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said -- in an opinion written by one of Sotomayor's colleagues and joined by Sotomayor and three other judges -- that it was bound by precedent interpreting Title VII's employment discrimination prohibitions to rule as it did in the case.

Supreme Court Justice David Souter -- whom Sotomayor would replace -- made clear what he said was the bind the city of New Haven found itself in, identifying its “damned if you do, damned if you don't situation” in its efforts to comply with Title VII's prohibitions on employment discrimination.

Moreover, contrary to Buchanan's claim that Sotomayor “practices race-based justice,” Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein wrote in a May 29 post on SCOTUSblog that after reviewing her record, “it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.” From Goldstein's post:

I've now completed the study of every one of Judge Sotomayor's race-related cases that I mention in the post below. I'll write more in the morning about particular cases, but here is what the data shows in sum:

Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases while on the court of appeals.

Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had occurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent's point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.


In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.

In his column, Buchanan cited a May 29 New York Times article which, as Media Matters documented, uncritically quoted Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, alleging that Sotomayor's position in Ricci “brought racial quotas back as a national issue.” The Times article further reported that Marx “saw a playbook” for the campaign against Sotomayor “in the successful attacks on Lani Guinier, whose 1993 nomination to a top Justice Department post was withdrawn after an outcry over her writings arguing for alternative voting systems intended to better represent minorities.” Guinier was derided as a “quota queen,” according to a 1993 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting article.

Buchanan has frequently attacked Sotomayor, accusing her of favoring “race-based justice” and discrimination against “white males.” For instance, Buchanan has claimed Sotomayor is “an anti-white, liberal judicial activist” ; said “it appears” that Sotomayor “believe[s] in reverse discrimination against white males” ; and claimed Sotomayor's purported discrimination against “white males” is similar to “what was done in the South.” Buchanan has also characterized Sotomayor as an “affirmative action pick” and been criticized by Democratic strategist Bob Shrum for calling Sotomayor “that woman.”

From Buchanan's June 2 column:

If the U.S. Senate rejects race-based justice, Sonia Sotomayor will never sit on the Supreme Court.

Because that is what Sonia is all about. As The New York Times reported Saturday, the salient cause of her career has been advancing persons of color, over whites, based on race and national origin.

“Judge Sotomayor, whose parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico,” writes reporter David Kirkpatrick, “has championed the importance of considering race and ethnicity in admissions, hiring and even judicial selection at almost every stage of her career.”

At Princeton, she headed up Accion Puertorriquena, which filed a complaint with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare demanding that her school hire Hispanic teachers. At Yale, she co-chaired a coalition of non-black minorities of color that demanded more Latino professors and administrators.

At Yale, she “shared the alarm of others in the group when the Supreme Court prohibited the use of quotas in university admissions in the 1978 decision Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.”

Alan Bakke was an applicant to the UC medical school at Davis who was rejected, though his test scores were higher than almost all of the minority students who were admitted. Bakke was white.

After Yale, Sotomayor joined the National Council of La Raza and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund. Both promote race and ethnic preferences, affirmative action and quotas for Hispanics.

But why should Puerto Ricans like Sotomayor, who were never subjected to slavery or Jim Crow -- their island was liberated from Spain in 1898 by the United States -- get racial or ethnic preferences over Polish- or Portuguese-Americans?

What is the justification for this kind of discrimination?

Like Lani Guinier, the Clinton appointee rejected for reverse racism, Sonia Sotomayor is a quota queen. She believes in, preaches and practices race-based justice. Her burying the appeal of the white New Haven firefighters, who were denied promotions they had won in competitive exams, was a no-brainer for her.

In her world, equal justice takes a back seat to tribal justice.

Now, people often come out to vote for one of their own. Catholics for JFK, evangelicals for Mike Huckabee, women for Hillary Clinton, Mormons for Mitt Romney, Jews for Joe Lieberman and African-Americans for Barack Obama. That is political reality and an exercise of political freedom.

But tribal justice is un-American.