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The Sotomayor Nomination: Last Gasp for Identity Politics?

June 23, 2009
Allan C. Brownfeld

When Judge Sonia Sotomayor was nominated for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court, newspapers across the country — including The Washington Post and The New York Times — did not even put her name in the headline, proclaiming instead, “Hispanic Woman Named to Supreme Court.” She was viewed, not as an individual with particular merits and demerits, but as a representative of an entire group of people. This, of course, is the essence of what has come to be known as “identity politics.”

Identity politics is hardly confined to the Sotomayor nomination. Consider the case of Senator Rolan Burris (D-IL). Writing in The Politico, Roger Simon provides this analysis: “You can see why Democrats are nervous. Roland Burris, a political hack, muscled his way into the U.S. Senate by nakedly playing the race card, and now everybody is jumpy about any comments that seem to indicate that one race should be favored over another…. Burris, whose main claim to fame was that in l6 years of holding office in Illinois he had not been indicted even once, was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who a few weeks earlier had been led away in handcuffs for trying to sell that Senate seat.”

The story continues …..

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