catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (Default)
In the lecture which includes the famous "wise Latina woman" quote, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was addressing the same basic issue that many of us have been arguing about for years: how do our life experiences affect our perceptions, and to what extent can we correct for that, and to what extent should we TRY to correct for that?

She went on to say: "I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."

I can't argue with that premise, and the more I read the entire speech from which the "wise Latina woman" quote was taken, the more I see Judge Sotomayor as someone who has given exactly the kind of thoughtful and careful consideration to this issue that we need from our judges and other policymakers. Yes, a judge is a policymaker. Anyone who deals with trial-level judges in courts like Family Court sees that judges on the trial level bring their individual experiences, beliefs and philosophies to the application of the law to the facts. How can they not? Look at the obvious struggle, for example, of the justices of the California Supreme Court to separate out their personal views on a social issue from the narrow legal question which was before them for decision on the Proposition 8 case. It's not an easy thing to do. Whether one agrees or disagrees with a particular court ruling, the process of recognizing one's own values and how they affect one's opinions is an ongoing one for all human beings in general, and most powerfully and significantly for those whose decisions affect others.

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catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (Default)
catecumen

September 2012

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