The time is upon us to find a replacement judge for the United States Supreme Court’s retiring Justice David Souter. As always, the battle lines are drawn and both major parties are revving up to make their positions known. Whether you are for or against President Obama’s selection of Sonia Sotomayor is of little relevance because the chances of her losing the position are slim. However, we do need to look at the importance of “conscience” with regard to any judge professing to have the wisdom, which is what the office is really all about, to decide the fate of an individual, group, or issue of great importance. When a judge is too close to a case (i.e. lacking the ability to remain impartial due to irrepressible bias) he or she has an opt out obligation…recusal. Simply put, to disqualify or remove oneself to avoid either a conflict of interest or the illusion of impropriety. This act of recusement is one of the issues that Sotomayor will face in spite of her poignant life story, impressive qualifications, and extensive judicial experience. Her joint decision with regard to a group of firefighters who went before the court to sue the city of New Haven, CT. when they had passed a required examination for promotion will also become a point of note. Apparently, there were no African-Americans who scored high enough to be promoted so the city decided to invalidate the test and not promote anyone. Truly this was a case of reverse race discrimination. Unfortunately, nominee Sotomayor was one of the Circuit Court level judges who dismissed the firefighters’ case…which is now slated to the docket of U.S. Supreme Court. Oh, the irony of it all. According to Sotomayor and the others comprising the three-judge panel: The city of New Haven was simply trying to fulfill its obligations under federal law when confronted with test results that had a disproportionate racial impact. ASIDE: One of the firefighters was dyslexic and, after intensive studying, received high marks on one of the exams. Truly the “quota requirement”, even if sanctioned by federal law, is unconstitutional. Why even test? Lady Justice is a sword toting, scale bearing, blind-folded symbol of fair and equal justice. Her sword symbolizes that she stands capable to cut to the heart of the matter before her and execute justice. The scales show her ready to weigh the evidence presented while examining both the pros and cons. She is blind-folded so that no creed, color, or status can have the upper hand. All who enter the hallowed court should not feel that they do so at their own peril, but rather with confidence when RIGHT is on their side. May Sonia Sotomayor be that “Lady of Justice” while serving on any bench.
Note: When justice fails…injustice prevails.
May God bless America…and may America deserve it!
Zanne Booker 5-28-09