In case Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor hasn’t been unfairly ridiculed enough, she is now being criticized for her membership in the club Belizean Grove, which she described as a “private organization of female professionals from the profit, nonprofit, and social sectors.”
GOP senators claim that Sotomayor’s participation in the organization violates the Code of Judicial Conduct because the group “discriminates on the basis of sex” (there are no male members). Ironically, the organization was created as a counterpart to the all-male Bohemian Grove. It seems both genders are being fairly represented, and are not being discriminated against, then.
Sotomayor defended herself against the accusations, clarifying that males participate at events, talks, and even outings. She added that the group has never “discriminated” on the basis of sex; a man has yet to apply for (or therefore be denied) a membership.
The complaints against Sotomayer seem even more ridiculous when one considers that she is hardly the first judge to be linked to activist groups. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has lectured for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, a women’s rights advocacy group, and is highly involved in the International Women’s Forum, which also has an exclusive membership. Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor also had ties to organizations that promoted the success of women.
It’s incomprehensible that Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in the aftermath of seemingly irrefutable allegations by Professor Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her, yet today, we have politicians bent on destroying Sotomayor based on her involvement in a legitimate, legal, appropriate, extracurricular club.
While it’s important to keep the branches of government—and their members—in check, the claim that Sotomayor is ill-fit to be a Supreme Court Justice because of her participation in an all-female club borders on ludicrous. Being a member of a group that helps “women pursue more significant dreams, ambitions, [and] purposes” doesn’t make one unable to judge impartially — it makes one a good person.
We allow Supreme Court members to have religious affiliations, and don’t accuse them of making biased judgments because of it. So is it really fair to claim that Sotomayor’s involvement in a female organization will get in the way of her neutrality? I think not. [CNN, MSNBC]