May 30, 2009

I Say Sotomayor, you Say… Lani Guinier (and the Smell of Scandal)


This morning — in showcasing right-wing concerns over Sonia Sotomayor’s “focus on race” — the NYT drew this visual parallel … with Lani Guinier. (The article“Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle”– also features a close-up photo of an intense-looking (white male) Texas Republican and Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn with the quote: “Justice should be colorblind.”)

Guinier, if you recall, was nominated by Bill Clinton for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in ’93. The nomination was withdrawn after the right-wing distorted, then flipped-out over her views on voting and civil rights, leading the WSJ editorial board to label her “one of “Clinton’s Quota Queens.” (There’s a good Guinier profile here which is interesting alone for documenting how a nominee can be defamed, then chewed up by the right-wing attack machine.)

This visual offers a nominee “to a top Justice post” and a woman-of-color clutching tight to a roll of papers and looking grim, doggedly ahead and mostly oblivious to a question being posed to her by a (blonde, female and emphatically inquiring) member of the press who has obviously been doing her background research.

Given the darkness, the paparazzi-like feel and, primarily, the sense of controversy and embattlement, this analogy not only sets up Sotomayor as a polarizing racial figure but encourages the consideration that her nomination, as well as she herself, could be headed for trouble over “her racial views.”

(12:55 am PST – slightly edited)

(image: Luke Frazza/AFP – Getty Images)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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