Barring any unforeseen circumstances Judge Sonia Sotomayor should become the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court. This would mark a historic moment for our nation and for the Hispanic community in particular. No Hispanic has served on the nation’s highest court.
With the nomination of Sotomayor, President Barack Obama has delivered on the promise that his candidacy represented: diversity in country and opportunity for ethnic minorities to share in the ideals of this great country by becoming a part of the power structure.
For the Hispanic community there are few levers of power with which to affect change. Hispanics have slowly been accessing these levers of power. Elected representation has been the most prominent achievement. The other levers of power include: money - if you have enough money you can affect change, votes - and political representation, and the law -through judicial branches.
In years past Hispanics have not had access to these levers. The power that the Hispanic community did have was the power of the people, the ability to march, protest, and organize for change. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the Hispanic community relied on this ability to affect change through peaceful civic action.
At the same time Hispanics had the law of the land, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States to support their call for equality and self-determination.
The law of the land, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, are living documents. They are subject to interpretation. The Supreme Court is the final arbitrator in defining the law and the Constitution. The Supreme Court (Judicial Branch) is the third leg of the power structure upon which our nation is founded.
If Sotomayor does indeed become the next Justice of the court she will bring a certain empathy that should reflect her background and culture. This is not to say that she will slant her opinions to benefit the Hispanic community, but she will have an understanding of the Hispanic community that to date has been missing.
As we like to say at La Prensa San Diego, because of our background, because of our culture, because of our parents, family, and friends, because of our history we see the news through our brown eyes. This will be the type of empathy that Sotomayor will bring as the next Supreme Court Justice.
Judge Sotomayor’s education, experience, and courage will keep her grounded, as she serves the Constitution in the best interest of the whole country, with a little salsa on the side.