Quote reveals a pro-choice Sotomayor?
In the recent New Yorker story on Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Lauren Collins slips in an un-reported quote from the newest justice, which minority senators might be kicking themselves for missing:
In 2000, at the graduation ceremony of the Bronx Leadership Academy, Sotomayor had said, “It is so exciting to be at the door of a major change in one’s life. That’s why brides and bridegrooms smile so much at weddings and why so many tears of joy are shed when a wanted child arrives”—her unprompted use of the phrase “wanted child” acknowledging the possibility that an expectant parent could feel otherwise
Whether the phrase “wanted child” necessarily implies its opposite is certainly a matter of debate — and one that very well might have taken place during this summer’s Senate confirmation hearings. It lends itself to a near judicial question of interpretation: Does “wanted” imply that there are “unwanted” children, as Collins suggests? Or is “wanted” merely a superfluous adjective meant to imply the hopes and dreams of a couple in having children?
There’s really no way of knowing, but rest assured that all of these interpretations and more would have likely been trotted out. With very little, if any, information on Sotomayor’s position on abortion, it’s hard to believe the minority would have let something like this slip away had they known about it.
Indeed, conservative Senators, pundits and talk-show hosts grasped at flimsier straws this July — attacking Sotomayor for her “wise Latina” remarks, and ironically heralding her as an activist judge for her part in the 2nd Circuit’s precedent following Ricci decision.
“Unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re going to be confirmed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) memorably said to Sotomayor during her hearings. That “meltdown” was very much what the minority was hunting for this summer — and the fact that a quote like this, or rather an adjective like this, could have been Sotomayor’s undoing says a lot about the adversarial heights the Supreme Court confirmation process has reached.