Right-Wing Media Defend Trump’s Racist Attack On Judge With False Comparison To Sotomayor’s Call For Diversity

Right-Wing Media Defend Trump’s Racist Attack On Judge With False Comparison To Sotomayor’s Call For Diversity

››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

After Donald Trump received widespread criticism for attacking the ethnicity of the judge overseeing the Trump U. case, right-wing media figures are now falsely equating Trump’s bigoted attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel to comments made in a 2001 speech made by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, who called for more diversity in the court.

Donald Trump: Judge Curiel’s Ethnic Heritage Posed “Conflict Of Interest” In Trump U. Lawsuits, Because He Is “Mexican”

Donald Trump: Judge Gonzalo Curiel Has An “Absolute Conflict Of Interest” Because Of His “Mexican Heritage.” In a June 3 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Trump repeatedly claimed that Judge Gonzalo Curiel has a “conflict of interest” in lawsuits relating to Trump U., arguing that Curiel should “recuse himself” because he is a “Mexican.” Tapper repeatedly noted that Curiel is an American citizen born in Indiana, and asked Trump “if you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Trump responded, stating Curiel is giving “unfair rulings” because “we’re building a wall,” and Curiel is “a Mexican”:

TAPPER: Is it not -- When Hillary Clinton says this is a racist attack, you reject that, if you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: No. I don't think so at all. He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that.

TAPPER: But you’re say he can't do his job because of that.

TRUMP: Look, he's proud of his heritage. I'm building a wall. Now, I think I'm going to do very well --

TAPPER: He's a legal citizen.

(Crosstalk)

TRUMP: I'm going to do very well with Hispanics because I'm going to bring back jobs and they're going to get jobs right now. They’re going to get jobs. I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics, but we're building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings -- rulings that people can't even believe. This case should have ended years ago on summary judgement. The best lawyers -- I have spoken to so many lawyers, they said this is not a case. This is a case that should have ended. This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now, I say why? Well, I'm building a wall, ok? And it's a wall between Mexico, not another country and --

TAPPER: But he's not from Mexico, he's from Indiana.

TRUMP: Mexican heritage. And he's very proud of it. [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 6/3/16, via Media Matters]

Right-Wing Media Defend Trump By Insisting Similar Comments From SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor

Sean Hannity: “Doesn’t That Suggest That The Background, The Heritage Of Somebody Might Influence How They Do Things?” On the June 6 edition of his radio show, Sean Hannity asked “isn’t there some similarity here in assuming that Sonia Sotomayor’s comments [....] suggest that the background, the heritage of somebody might influence how they do things?” Hannity continued, claiming “That’s what liberals believe. Now, if Trump believes it, it’s a whole different story”:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Remember when Sotomayor, Sonia Sotomayor referred to herself as a “wise latina,” and that that would influence how she makes her decisions for better, because of her background and her experience? That wasn’t a controversial statement. When Trump says that maybe someone with a Latino influence in a case -- well, he’s Adolph Hitler, he’s a Nazi.

[...]

Isn’t there some similarity here in assuming that Sonia Sotomayor’s comments, or the way Clarence Thomas, that he didn’t play to type, you know, because he wasn’t a liberal Democrat, or a wise latina? You know, doesn’t that suggest that the background, the heritage of somebody might influence how they do things? That’s what liberals believe. Now, if Trump believes it, it’s a whole different story. Think about that. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/6/16]

National Review's Victor David Hanson: Sotomayor’s “Racist And Sexist Declaration Never Bothered The Media.” In a June 6 blog post for National Review Online, Victor David Hanson claimed “if the media are rightly shocked over Trump’s reference to a judge’s ethnic heritage, they certainly deaf to pre-Trump racial sloganeering.” Hanson claimed that Sotomayor’s “wise latina” statements were a “racist and sexist declaration,” stating media organizations ignore moments where “progressives in calm tones give voice to racialism”:

If the media are rightly shocked over Trump’s reference to a judge’s ethnic heritage, they certainly were mostly deaf to pre-Trump racial sloganeering. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made the term “Latina” a standard referent in her speeches. At one point she claimed: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” That racist and sexist declaration never bothered the media, though it might suggest that the stereotyping Sotomayor apparently feels that “wise Latinas” ipsis factis have had richer experiences than “white males.” Does she feel that wise Latina attorneys who come before her are innately more reliable than white male lawyers?

[...]

The public can decide how the “better conclusion” of a “wise Latina” or “Yeah, he’s a white guy” compares to Trump’s improper reference to the Mexican-American pedigree of Judge Curiel, a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers. But for the media, the fact that progressives in calm tones give voice to racialism is not news in a way it certainly is when vulgar conservatives bark out the same. [National Review Online, 6/6/16]

CNN Commentator Jeffrey Lord: Washington Post Unfairly Labels Trump’s Attacks “Racially Tinged,” But Sotomayor’s Comments Were A “Dog Whistle.” In a June 4 blog for the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters, CNN contributor and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord attacked the Washington Post for describing Trump’s attacks as “personal” and “racially tinged,” but endorsed Sonia Sotomayor after she “was explicitly saying that her view of judicial decision making was related not to the law and the Constitution but her ethnic/racial heritage as a ‘wise Latina’.”:

The philosophy of both Sonia Sotomayor and the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association - of which Judge Curiel is a card-carrying member - is identical. Which is to say, they want judges on the bench who are deliberately identifying their role in the legal community not as professional lawyers or jurists but as, in Sotomayor’s words, as “wise Latinas” or, as we might describe Judge Curiel, a “wise Latino."

Which brings us back to the Post’s horror at Donald Trump’s suggesting that, yes, in fact, he believes Judge Curiel to be biased precisely because of his Mexican heritage.

The hard fact here is that the American Left - in the media, as exemplified here by the Post’s endorsement of then-Judge Sotomayor - has no problem with the racializing of the judiciary and with judges who make decisions based not on the Constitution and the law but their own ethnic heritage. [NewsBusters, 6/6/16]

Washington Times’ Charles Hurt: Sotomayor’s Statements Are “Blasphemous,” “Maybe Donald Trump Might Be Right About Judge Curiel.” In a June 5 column for the Washington Times, Fox contributor Charles Hurt described Sotomayor’s statements as a “stunning admission of uncontrollable prejudice from the bench,” and claimed Sotomayor’s seat on the Supreme Court allows her to “exercise her prejudices over every court in the land.” Hurt continued, describing Sotomayor’s 2001 speech as “blasphemous,” writing “it is all so despicable that it even makes a good person wonder if just maybe Donald Trump might be right about Judge Curiel”:

Later in that blasphemous 2001 speech, Justice Sotomayor opined how she “would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” In the U.S. Senate, nine Republicans joined every Democrat in confirming Justice Sotomayor to the high court. And still some people wonder why so many American voters are so eager to line up behind the disruptive earthquake candidacy of Donald J. Trump. And, even scarier, it is all so despicable that it even makes a good person wonder if just maybe Donald Trump might be right about Judge Curiel. [Washington Times, 6/5/16]

But Sotomayor Has Clarified Her Comments, Stating No “Ethnic, Racial Or Gender Group Has An Advantage In Sound Judging"

CBS News: Sotomayor: “I Do Not Believe That Any Ethnic, Racial Or Gender Group Has An Advantage In Sound Judging.” CBS News reported that Sotomayor explained her well-publicized “wise Latina” comments during the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, stating “I was trying to inspire (students to believe their experiences would enrich the legal system.” Sotomayor continued, stating “I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging,” arguing “”I wasn’t encouraging the belief that I thought that (life experiences) should drive the result.”

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on the second day of her confirmation hearings explained the well-publicized "wise Latina" comments she has made in the past.

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sotomayor said in a speech at 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, law school. She made similar statements at other such events.

"I was trying to inspire (students) to believe their experiences would enrich the legal system," Sotomayor said Tuesday. "I was also trying to inspire them to believe they could become anything they wanted to become, just as I have."

She said the context of her words created a misunderstanding.

"I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging," she said. "I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experience." [CBS News, 7/14/09]

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