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Highly Dubious Claim against Sotomayor:

Something (to which I will not link) has appeared on the Internet, which purports to describe Sonia Sotomayor's work at Princeton:

Sotomayor is a graduate from Princeton University, where her legal theses included Race in the American Classroom, and Undying Injustice: American "Exceptionalism" and Permanent Bigotry, and Deadly Obsession: American Gun Culture. In this text, the student Sotomayor explained that the Second Amendment to the Constitution did not actually afford individual citizens the right to bear arms, but only duly conferred organizations, like the military. Instead of making guns illegal, she argues that they have been illegal for individuals to own since the passing of the Bill of Rights.
There is no reason to believe this is true. The purported source is "American News Inc." The link to this alleged news source is dead. In a quick Internet search, I found no such organization.

Further, the text of the article is self-refuting. An undergraduate at an Ivy League school, including Princeton, would write only one thesis. (Perhaps two if she were an exceptionally hard-working double major.) It would be unheard of for a student to write more than three, as the article claims she did. Nor would anyone who actually knew what a Princeton thesis was describe it as a "legal" thesis.

Moreover, Sotomayor was intelligent enough to graduate from Yale Law School Princeton Summa Cum Laude. It is inconceivable that someone of such intelligence (or even of modest intelligence) could have written a thesis asserting that the Second Amendment actually outlawed gun ownership outside of the militia.

Updated update: Commenters explain that Princeton students write two junior papers and one senior paper; only the latter is called a "thesis." Other commenters point out that her senior thesis was about the Puerto Rican politician Luis Munoz Marin. The blog which created this item has a small tag on the article which says "satire." Although all of the commenters on that blog seem to have taken the article seriously, as has every other cite to it on the web. People who want to read satire on the web would be better off with Iowahawk, which can be recognized as satire because it is sometimes funny.

nvs (mail):
princeton summa, not yale ls
5.26.2009 3:16pm
Matthew K:
I can't find any record of her thesis in the Princeton library system. It's odd, I thought the archives went back that far.
5.26.2009 3:18pm
anonymous yls:
I'm with you on everything else, but I do not think she graduated from Yale summa cum laude. They have not had such honors for a very long time.
5.26.2009 3:20pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I agree with everything except your final paragraph. The nonsense that gets published in prestigious law reviews refutes that paragraph.

Nick
5.26.2009 3:20pm
cboldt (mail):
I've found a recent (May 26, 2009) article that recites "[At Princeton] She majored in history, and her senior thesis was about the impact of Luis Munoz Marin, the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico."
5.26.2009 3:27pm
MRSquared (mail):
Correction: she was "intelligent enough" get into YLS. Anyone who gets in and goes graduates. And, I'm sure what's helping her to this nomination helped her get into YLS.
5.26.2009 3:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Sonia Sotomayor's senior thesis (history) at Princeton had the snooze-inducing title:

La Historia Ciclica de Puerto Rico. The Impact of the Life of Luis Munoz Marin on the Political and Economic History of Puerto Rico, 1930-1975 (178 pages).

In short, the thing DK is talking about is a hoax.
5.26.2009 3:28pm
Todd Henderson (mail):
Non-engineers at Princeton generally write three "theses": two "junior papers" (or "JPs") and one senior thesis. I graduated long after Judge (soon-to-be Justice) Sotomayor, so I can't speak to her work or titles of her papers.
5.26.2009 3:30pm
EC2:
MRSquared - Please, the woman graduated summa from Princeton, I don't think AA has ever factored into who graduates with honors. She earned the right to attend YLS, and she proved herself worthy while she was there. No doubt her ethnicity played a role in her nomination, but a Supreme Court nomination is always somewhat arbitrary. Presidents used to feel compelled to nominate on the basis of geographic diversity. Now the political calculus has changed.
5.26.2009 3:39pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
An undergraduate at an Ivy League school, including Princeton, would write only one thesis.

Yeah, but Princeton Law has notoriously high standards (except for minorities) and its students are required to write three theses, which I think explains the puzzle.
5.26.2009 3:40pm
Constantin:
She earned the right to attend YLS

Maybe. I'd still love to see her LSAT. Obama's too, for that matter.
5.26.2009 3:42pm
M:
I'm a recent Princeton grad, and although students do generally write two junior papers and one senior thesis, I've never heard anyone refer to the JP as a "thesis." Furthermore, the university doesn't keep copies of JPs as far as I know, only copies of senior theses, so I doubt someone would know the topic of her JPs.
5.26.2009 3:43pm
M:

Yeah, but Princeton Law has notoriously high standards (except for minorities) and its students are required to write three theses, which I think explains the puzzle.


Yes - Princeton Law has such high standards that no one has been accepted since the 1700s. There's no such thing as a thesis from Princeton Law.
5.26.2009 3:45pm
Justin (mail):
Kieran,

I guess that explains how Will Smith's uncle graduated.

Constantin,

There's certainly an offensive nature to your post, but nobody earns their right to attend any private school. Admission to Harvard or Yale is not an honor, and the school can choose who it wants to offer admission to based on any criteria it chooses, so long as that criteria is legal.
5.26.2009 3:45pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
A commenter explains that Princeton students write two junior papers and one senior paper, and these are called "theses."

No, the junior papers are just called "junior papers" or JPs. The thesis is the Senior Thesis. I don't think JPs are ever called theses.

Maybe. I'd still love to see her LSAT.

At Princeton, everyone gets a free Pyne Prize upon graduation. Well known fact.

There's no such thing as a thesis from Princeton Law.

Thanks for pointing that out, M.
5.26.2009 3:46pm
Justin (mail):
M,

Kieran Healey was being sarcastic.
5.26.2009 3:46pm
M:
Ha, sorry Kieran - the sarcasm didn't come across in a quick glance through the comments.
5.26.2009 3:50pm
David Matthews (mail):
Well, I guess Snopes.com can stamp this one as "False."
5.26.2009 3:50pm
Constantin:
Constantin,

There's certainly an offensive nature to your post


Why? Is it out of bounds for someone to suggest that affirmative action (or legacy admits, for that matter) has resulted in less-than-qualified people being admitted to prestigious institutions? Especially when it's a statistical fact?

Look, if I'm going to be preached to for eight years about what a genius Obama is, against some serious evidence to the contrary, I'd like some proof. Same goes for a judge whose rulings will impact my life for thirty years or whatever.

If guys like you don't like the questions, I can think of one way to end them. Get rid of affirmative action. Until then, I'll not be part of your charade.

And Kieren, good for her on her trophy. I'd still pay to see the LSATs.
5.26.2009 3:57pm
Justin (mail):
She does have other things to her resume besides "got into Princeton" and "got into Yale" (as does Obama, replacing the words Princeton and Yale with Columbia and Harvard). Indeed, these are some of the least relevant parts of their resumes. Their grades, for instance, were not determined by looking at their race. And your focus on them is certainly offensive.
5.26.2009 4:01pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
What was her LSAT score?

Nevertheless I do suspect the article is a hoax as it lacks documentation.
5.26.2009 4:01pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

She earned the right to attend YLS,

You cannot "earn" a "right" If it is a "right" you have it without earning. If it is earned, it is not a right, it is something else. A right is something everyone has, regardless of power, regardless of earning.
5.26.2009 4:07pm
Harry O (mail):
Reportedly she has made rulings on the 2nd Amendment that are not comforting:

"Judge Sotomayor, a New York native, ruled on a Second Circuit Appeals Court panel that the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right, it is a collective right, and it does not apply to the states in the case of Maloney v. Cuomo."

Maybe the people here could check to see if this one is accurate.
5.26.2009 4:10pm
Anon321:
To echo others, in my time at Princeton, I never heard anyone refer to a JP as a thesis, or to the two JPs and senior thesis collectively as theses.

It may be reasonable (or an inevitable consequence of affirmative action) to wonder whether someone would have gotten admitted to an Ivy League school if she had had a different ethnicity. But Sotomayor won the Pyne Prize -- "an annual award given to one or more graduating seniors who have manifested exceptional scholarship, leadership and personal character — [it] is the highest general award bestowed by the University upon an undergraduate." The prize is based purely on merit and accomplishments while a student.

Even if we were to imagine (on the basis of pure conjecture) that she did poorly on her LSAT, I think we can fairly say that her extraordinary achievements at Princeton would have made her a very strong candidate for admission to any law school, including Yale.
5.26.2009 4:11pm
AnthonyJ (mail):
While I doubt the usage is correct here, it's perfectly possible to 'earn a right' -- a right can be in the form of 'if you do X, you acquire the right Y'. State university systems often have admission guarantees of one sort or another.
5.26.2009 4:11pm
MRSquared (mail):
It's very possible to earn a right. This is essentially happens upon performance of a unilateral contract.
5.26.2009 4:16pm
MarkField (mail):

Why? Is it out of bounds for someone to suggest that affirmative action (or legacy admits, for that matter) has resulted in less-than-qualified people being admitted to prestigious institutions? Especially when it's a statistical fact?


You've just explained precisely why your original post was racist. You made an assumption about an individual based on the (perceived) characteristics of a group she belongs to. That's pretty much a textbook example of racism: attributing to an individual the qualities supposedly common in a group.

BTW, what on earth is a "statistical fact" and what could you possibly mean by the phrase in this context?
5.26.2009 4:17pm
MRSquared (mail):
Constantin did not make an assumption; he wrote that he's curious what her LSAT score was.
5.26.2009 4:18pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

To echo others, in my time at Princeton, I never heard anyone refer to a JP as a thesis, or to the two JPs and senior thesis collectively as theses.

When I was a graduate student, it was said that the plural of thesis is theses, which rhymes with feces; for good reason.
5.26.2009 4:19pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
No, the junior papers are just called "junior papers" or JPs. The thesis is the Senior Thesis. I don't think JPs are ever called theses.
I just want to echo this: we never called our JPs "theses," and I've never heard any classmate or alum do so. They were JPs.
5.26.2009 4:22pm
Linus:
When did LSAT scores suddenly become a measure of intelligence? Why not just ask for SAT scores, or perhaps their 3rd grade attendance records? I scored highly on the LSAT and haven't accomplished much when compared to Judge Sotomayer.

Let's be clear her being nominated is in NO WAY affirmative action.

One of the long running and debated aspects of the affirmative action debates is always going to be whether diversity of race, gender, class and perspectives are a "bonus." I think just about every study out there has confirmed that "diversity" as a general rule, does in fact create better decision making.

Even if you were to object to her pick as a) woman, b) racial heritage, then just argue her qualifications on the merit. There is little in her record to indicate she is a poor judge or of lesser quality than the 8 Justices sitting currently. And arguing that she is 'wrong' on an issue is not an argument on qualifications.
5.26.2009 4:25pm
green-grizzly (mail):
I had a copy of that second amendment thesis, but the tooth fairy took it.
5.26.2009 4:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkField:

"You've just explained precisely why your original post was racist. You made an assumption about an individual based on the (perceived) characteristics of a group she belongs to."

According to your definition Sotomayor herself is a racist as she said
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life,..."
In effect she's telling us that white males will reach inferior conclusions.
5.26.2009 4:29pm
Constantin:
You made an assumption about an individual based on the (perceived) characteristics of a group she belongs to. That's pretty much a textbook example of racism: attributing to an individual the qualities supposedly common in a group.

You just (1) outlined the philosophical basis for affirmative action and (2) did a great job paraphrasing Sotomayor's theory of judging, per her profound "Latina woman/white male" exposition. But I'm the racist.

BTW, what on earth is a "statistical fact" and what could you possibly mean by the phrase in this context?

Google Richard Sander. What's the percentage of minority students at elite colleges and law schools who aren't there because of affirmative action? It's such that I'm on pretty sound footing to presume she was an AA admit, as was Obama, unless presented with something to the contrary.

I'll not be lectured on racism by someone who advocates for racism, and, as of today, advocates for judges (and presidents) who are on record as advocates for racism.
5.26.2009 4:30pm
Linus:
One clarification:

The nature of the position itself is a political one. There is no reason to think that the 9 Justices who decide political cases should not attempt to represent by their composition the people that their decisions affect. This is not "affirmative" action only because the position itself should value a diverse background that is not represented. The nomination isn't trying to 'right' a past wrong, but should be viewed as trying to make the most effective body.
And if you want to argue that a diverse membership doesn't add anything to the institution, feel free to, but you would be arguing against nearly every study that has looked into decision making processes in general.
5.26.2009 4:31pm
Justin (mail):
PS - I bet Princeton and Yale are sorry that they accepted her, you should show them her entrance exam scores again. Maybe they can take her degree away before it hurts their prestige.
5.26.2009 4:31pm
Constantin:
Let's be clear her being nominated is in NO WAY affirmative action.

One of the long running and debated aspects of the affirmative action debates is always going to be whether diversity of race, gender, class and perspectives are a "bonus." I think just about every study out there has confirmed that "diversity" as a general rule, does in fact create better decision making.


Is this Sarcastro?
5.26.2009 4:33pm
Justin (mail):
Constantin,

Yes, I am just positive Richad Sander has your back on this one. Clearly, Sotomayor has been hurt, professionally, by her admission to Yale Law.
5.26.2009 4:33pm
Constantin:
PS - I bet Princeton and Yale are sorry that they accepted her, you should show them her entrance exam scores again. Maybe they can take her degree away before it hurts their prestige.

PPS--If you affirmative action someone all the way to the Supreme Court, I don't think that proves that the first affirmative action-ing somehow was prescient.
5.26.2009 4:34pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"When did LSAT scores suddenly become a measure of intelligence?"

The scores didn't suddenly become a measure of intelligence, they have always been such. They and other g-loaded tests do correlate well with general intelligence. I don't know if LSAT has a higher g-loading that the SAT, but I suspect it does. The military has been using the AFOQT (Air Force Officers Qualifying Test) for decades as a measure of general intelligence to help them select recruits for assignments. These tests are not as good as individually administered IQ tests, but those are too expensive to use to select students for admission.
5.26.2009 4:36pm
Linus:
I think it is easy to misread Judge Sotomeyer's quote as somehow saying that all latina women will always make better decisions than white men. This is silly. And if you were to really read it that way, then i would love to sell you a bridge.

The quotation should be read as giving context to why background matters in making decisions. The people who keep arguing against empathy in legal making decision seem to be exactly the type of people who don't litigate cases in front of judges or who have the luxury of litigating mainly esoteric and linguistic matters.

It is naive to think that the law works like mathematics or like a giant formula book of input A + input B = Right answer C. Justice isn't that simple. Justice will require empathy, will require the ability to understand the impact of decisions on people, and how the people relate at all to the law. The law uses words like "reasonable person" all the time.
The question will always come down to who that "reasonable person" is describing. If the only judges deciding that question share teh same exact background, same history and yes, same cultural experience, than guess what? Those cases will likely only be just for a much smaller group of people. Doesn't anyone think it perverse when questions of sexual harrassment, or Title IX cases come up that it is always invariably only men who try and weigh the effects of certain policies and decisions?
5.26.2009 4:39pm
Justin (mail):
"PPS--If you affirmative action someone all the way to the Supreme Court, I don't think that proves that the first affirmative action-ing somehow was prescient."

Wow. Did you leave some white robes laying around here? Seriously - nothing a minority can do, short of disclosing standardized test scores from decades ago, can prove that she's done anything worthy of praise?

Her grades, her election to the board of Yale Law Journel, her job as a prosecutor, her successful private practice work, her appointment to the federal bench by a Republican, her appointment to the federal appeals court by a Democrat, her nomination the Supreme Court, is all because she's a Hispanic? None of it, not even a teensy-weensy, is her own talent? Why don't we have 50 million Hispanic Supreme Court Justices, then?

The mind scattegories.
5.26.2009 4:40pm
MRSquared (mail):
It's hardly revolutionary to acknowledge that race-based AA creates race-based perceptions of achievement.
5.26.2009 4:44pm
keypusher64 (mail):
MarkField :


Why? Is it out of bounds for someone to suggest that affirmative action (or legacy admits, for that matter) has resulted in less-than-qualified people being admitted to prestigious institutions? Especially when it's a statistical fact?



You've just explained precisely why your original post was racist. You made an assumption about an individual based on the (perceived) characteristics of a group she belongs to. That's pretty much a textbook example of racism: attributing to an individual the qualities supposedly common in a group.


I don't think is right. Sotomayor's relevant characteristics for AA purposes are her gender and her ethnicity. There is no question that she possesses these characteristics.

Hispanics enter law school with lower grades and lesser credentials than white admittees and do worse than whites in law school. That a particular Hispanic is underqualified compared to his or her white peers is an inference from that. Like any inference, it may be correct or incorrect. As long as the holder of the inference is willing to revise his assumptions in response to additional data, then what is the problem?
5.26.2009 4:45pm
Linus:
Who is Sarcastro? If that is referring to someone else, than no. I read often, but post rarely.

If you define Affirmative action programs as requiring the dimension of race (which you seem to be focused on in your absolute core belief that somehow obama and jusge sotomayer got in with lesser intellect) to be considered in attaining a position when race should not be a factor in the success of that position. For instance, race should not play a role in how well you do in law school for instance, and hence programs that recognize race as a positive factor in admissions are "affirmative action" programs. If you accept that definition, than my argument is simply that the nomination of Judge Sotomayor does not apply.

Racial heritage is considered as part of her nomination, because i think that the heritage will in fact be a factor in her success as a Supreme Court Justice. Especially, since the SCOTUS is a deliberative body that currently has an overwhelming majority of specific backgrounds.
5.26.2009 4:46pm
New Pseudonym:
Nice to see that the Right Wing is keeping up with the Left Wing on the kook scale.
5.26.2009 4:47pm
conlaw2 (mail):
PPS--If you affirmative action someone all the way to the Supreme Court, I don't think that proves that the first affirmative action-ing somehow was prescient.

Is AA ever supposed to be prescient?
5.26.2009 4:48pm
PC:
Her grades, her election to the board of Yale Law Journel, her job as a prosecutor, her successful private practice work, her appointment to the federal bench by a Republican, her appointment to the federal appeals court by a Democrat, her nomination the Supreme Court, is all because she's a Hispanic?

It's just another example of Latinas keepin' the white man down.
5.26.2009 4:49pm
cd:

Google Richard Sander. What's the percentage of minority students at elite colleges and law schools who aren't there because of affirmative action? It's such that I'm on pretty sound footing to presume she was an AA admit, as was Obama, unless presented with something to the contrary.


You are not on solid ground in assuming that Obama was admitted to HLS only because of that school's affirmative action policies. That may be a reasonable presumption if all we knew about Obama is that he is a black man who attended HLS. But that is not all we know about him. We also know, for instance, that he graduated magna cum laude and was the president of the law review.
5.26.2009 4:49pm
MRSquared (mail):
"Nice to see that the Right Wing is keeping up with the Left Wing on the kook scale."

Fascinating how it's "kooky" to be against government programs that discriminate against individuals based on the color of their skin.
5.26.2009 4:50pm
Constantin:
Nice to see that the Right Wing is keeping up with the Left Wing on the kook scale.

Ours don't get nominated to the Supreme Court.
5.26.2009 4:52pm
RPT (mail):
"Constanin: [FKA Smokey?]

Maybe. I'd still love to see her LSAT. Obama's too, for that matter."

Here we go again. How about her high school grades, as well? If they are minority, they must be inferior.

Now, as to your "ours don't get on the Court" comment, from where come Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, if not from what is commonly called the "right wing"? Who are you waiting for; Glenn Reynolds? Hugh Hewitt? John Yoo? Jay Bybee? David Sentelle? Hans Van Spakovsky? Monica Goodling? Talk about entitlement......don't you know when you're ahead?
5.26.2009 5:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
How come Jews don't need AA to gain admission to highly selective universities and professional schools? In fact many of these schools once had quotas that specifically kept out even highly qualified Jews. Even the children of uneducated immigrants from Eastern Europe someone managed to become successful even in the face of prejudice. If all ethnic groups are equal in their native ability, why do some need AA and others don't?
5.26.2009 5:26pm
Ben P:

Is this Sarcastro?


Actually, I think it's an interesting thought experiment.

Eliminate Sotomayor's name and ethnicity, and consider the credentials in the abstract, can you really presume she's being privileged by her ethnicity?

Among the nine justices we have

1. BA Harvard , JD harvard, editor of law review, Circuit court clerk, Supreme Court Clerk, Private Practice, Solicitor General, Circuit Court Judge.

2. BA University Of Chicago, JD Northwestern, Supreme Court Clerk, Private Practice, 5 years as Circuit Court Judge,

3. BA Georgetown, JD Harvard, Private Practice, Law Professor at Virginia, Assistant Attorney General for OLC, Law professor at Chicago, Georgetown and Stanford, four years as Circuit Court Judge.

4. BA Stanford, LLB Harvard, Private Practice, Law Professor at McGeorge, 12 years as a circuit court judge.

5. AB Harvard, MA Oxford, JD Harvard, Assistant and later Deputy Attorney General of New Hampshire, State Trial Court Judge, 7 years State Supreme COurt Judge, 5 Months as US Circuit Court Judge.

6. BA Holy Cross, JD Yale, Assistant Atty. General of Missouri, In house corporate work, Government Policy Work, 1 Year as US Circuit Court Judge.

7. BA Cornell, JD Columbia (Transfered from Harvard in 3rd year), US Circuit Court Clerkship, Law Professor at Columbia, Rutgers and Stanfard, public interest attorney for ACLU, 13 Years as US Circuit Court Clerk.

8. BA Stanford, BA Oxford, LLB Harvard, US Supreme Court Clerk, US assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, Special Counsel to Senate COmmittee on Judiciary, Professor at Harvrd, 14 Years as Circuit Court Judge.

9. BA Princeton, JD Yale, US Circuit Clerk, AUSA, Assistant to Solicitor General, United States Attorney, 16 Years as Circuit Court Judge

10. BA Princeton , JD Yale, New York City ADA, Private Practice, 6 Years as a district court judge, 13 Years as an Circuit court judge.



Can you affirmatively find something in the credentials of these 10 people that makes one or more of them "sub-par" for being considered for a nomination?

The central premise of affirmative action is that it privileges certain classes and thereby enables them to achive something they would not otherwise be qualified for.
I think Affirmative action, on the whole causes many more problems than it solves,

On the other hand, you seem to be working under the assumption that whenever anyone other than a white male is chosen for something, that affirmative action is involved, and they are automatically less qualified than the "alternative."

If you look at Sotomayor's credentials in the abstract, she's every bit as qualified as other nominees. The mere fact that she was chosen and is also a minority doesn't create affirmative action. Even if she was chosen from a slate of equals because all other things being equal, political considerations make a minority choice more appealing, that's still arguably not affirmative action.
5.26.2009 5:34pm
Mark S. Devenow Esq. (mail):
I don't think these allegations concerning junior papers and a senior thesis (or theses) allegedly written by Sotomayor will pan out as true. However, I have a little trouble with the idea that one should be prepared to dismiss them out of hand. Why not provide the link and allow readers to come to their own provisional conclusions. Sooner or later the truth will out anyway.
5.26.2009 5:49pm
PC:
Mark, here's one source. Nathan Figler gets 6 hits from Google, including that blog entry. American News Inc. doesn't turn up anything relevant on the first page of results in Google.
5.26.2009 5:53pm
Ben P:

I don't think these allegations concerning junior papers and a senior thesis (or theses) allegedly written by Sotomayor will pan out as true. However, I have a little trouble with the idea that one should be prepared to dismiss them out of hand. Why not provide the link and allow readers to come to their own provisional conclusions. Sooner or later the truth will out anyway.



I hadn't looked them up before, but your comment caused me to exercise a little google fu. I can't speak to Kopel's motives, but the sources I found almost make me question whether Kopel's simply trying to publicize a rumor while discrediting it.

This seems to be the earliest source.
Uumping in Pools: Sotomayor gun ownership "unconstitutional."

Places that seem to have picked up the blog post quickly include.

AR 15 forums, InvestorsIraq forums,Tennessee Gun Owners FOrums and Bloodthirsty Liberal.

As an interesting side note, while doing this I uncovered mylegalspot.com which appears to be a verbatim copying and reposting of the Volokh RSS feed without any attribution.
5.26.2009 6:04pm
seadrive:
I would have hoped it was beneath the dignity of a Conspirator to post a rumor that he thought scurrilous.


[DK: I posted because the false rumor was already circulating on the Internet, including on sites which cater to pro-Second Amendment readers, and I wanted to refute the false rumor as quickly as possible. If the original posting of the false story had not attracted attention elsewhere on the Internet, I would have ignored it.]
5.26.2009 6:22pm
zuch (mail) (www):
People who want to read satire on the web would be better off with Iowahawk, which can be recognized as satire because it is sometimes funny.<*sigh*> It's getting sooo hard to tell the difference between satire and right-wingers lately. -)

Cheers,
5.26.2009 6:30pm
MarkField (mail):

I don't think is right. Sotomayor's relevant characteristics for AA purposes are her gender and her ethnicity. There is no question that she possesses these characteristics.

Hispanics enter law school with lower grades and lesser credentials than white admittees and do worse than whites in law school. That a particular Hispanic is underqualified compared to his or her white peers is an inference from that. Like any inference, it may be correct or incorrect. As long as the holder of the inference is willing to revise his assumptions in response to additional data, then what is the problem?


The fundamental logical problem is that, while Hispanics in general may have lower credentials -- which I'll assume is true for the sake of argument only -- that is irrelevant to whether any particular Hispanic person does. Let's take an example from outside academics. Smokers are at higher risk of lung cancer, but that doesn't mean every smoker gets it. Even if statistical categories accurately described groups, it's a logical flaw to assume that each member of a group is affected the same way or at all.

In this particular case, the offense is even worse because Judge Sotomayor in fact falls into a great many arbitrary mental categories: she's female, she's diabetic, she's over 50, she's Puerto Rican, she's Hispanic, she's short, she's human, etc. Out of all these categories, Constantin chose just one -- her ethnicity -- as relevant to her "qualifications". In fact, not one of those categories is particularly relevant. Her grades are relevant, her accomplishments are relevant, but her ethnicity is not.


Constantin did not make an assumption; he wrote that he's curious what her LSAT score was.


I think the subsequent posts have made this point moot.


You just (1) outlined the philosophical basis for affirmative action and (2) did a great job paraphrasing Sotomayor's theory of judging, per her profound "Latina woman/white male" exposition. But I'm the racist.


Let me get this straight: your argument is that you did exactly what affirmative action does; affirmative action is racist; therefore you are not racist? Might want to re-think that.

FWIW, I didn't say you were racist, I said your post was. You may or may not be; I don't know you.


What's the percentage of minority students at elite colleges and law schools who aren't there because of affirmative action? It's such that I'm on pretty sound footing to presume she was an AA admit, as was Obama, unless presented with something to the contrary.


Unless it's 100%, then you don't have a very solid grasp of statistics, as your reference to "statistical facts" suggests.
5.26.2009 6:38pm
Desiderius:
Markfield,

"while Hispanics in general may have lower credentials -- which I'll assume is true for the sake of argument only -- that is irrelevant to whether any particular Hispanic person does."

Exactly, which is why that definition of racism (applying group characteristics to individuals) was, and is, so popular, carrying the day in the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.

For the sake of argument, what would happen if you did more than assume that your first statement was true for the sake of argument? I.e. looked at the data?
5.26.2009 6:59pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Mark Field

The fundamental logical problem is that, while Hispanics in general may have lower credentials -- which I'll assume is true for the sake of argument only

I am always surprised when I see these sorts of reservations. Do you really doubt that Hispanic law students have lesser credentials than white law students on average?

Let's take an example from outside academics. Smokers are at higher risk of lung cancer, but that doesn't mean every smoker gets it. Even if statistical categories accurately described groups, it's a logical flaw to assume that each member of a group is affected the same way or at all.

Yes, but if you assume a smoker is more likely to have lung cancer than a non-smoker, you're correct, aren't you? Again, it's the difference between an inference and a conclusion.

In this particular case, the offense is even worse because Judge Sotomayor in fact falls into a great many arbitrary mental categories: she's female, she's diabetic, she's over 50, she's Puerto Rican, she's Hispanic, she's short, she's human, etc. Out of all these categories, Constantin chose just one -- her ethnicity -- as relevant to her "qualifications". In fact, not one of those categories is particularly relevant. Her grades are relevant, her accomplishments are relevant, but her ethnicity is not.

And again, I can only respond "really?" This is a bit like the conservatives who said Thomas, who just happened to be black, was the most qualified person to replace Thurgood Marshall, who just happened to be black. But we're grownups here, and not political hacks, right? We're not even getting paid to talk nonsense, as we sometimes are in our day jobs. So let's not talk nonsense.

Judge Sotomayor's gender and ethnicity was, I think everyone knows, of overwhelming importance to the president who just nominated her. Her height probably mattered much less. (I won't say the same for her diabetes, which may limit her tenure on the Court.)

And Hispanicity, or African-American-ness, is of overwhelming importance to law schools. So much so that they in effect have a separate admissions process for students who are Hispanic or black. Which means that students in those categories are generally less academically accomplished than their white (or Asian) classmates. Do we really have to pretend otherwise? That is why, I suppose, Constantin focused on her ethnicity in rather than her height or her diabetes.
5.26.2009 7:41pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Sotomayor is a graduate from Princeton University, where her legal theses included Race in the American Classroom, and Undying Injustice: American "Exceptionalism" and Permanent Bigotry, and Deadly Obsession: American Gun Culture.

Contra Professor Kopel, I think this is good satire.
5.26.2009 7:57pm
MarkField (mail):

For the sake of argument, what would happen if you did more than assume that your first statement was true for the sake of argument? I.e. looked at the data?


Because I didn't want to get bogged down in an argument about what constitutes a "qualification". Personally, I don't think LSAT scores are much of one, but as I say that's a separate discussion altogether.


Do you really doubt that Hispanic law students have lesser credentials than white law students on average?


See my answer above.


Yes, but if you assume a smoker is more likely to have lung cancer than a non-smoker, you're correct, aren't you? Again, it's the difference between an inference and a conclusion.


No, you can assume or infer that smokers as a group are more likely to have lung cancer. If you are faced with a single individual, the correct approach is to look for symptoms of cancer.

What you would NOT do is put on the smoker the burden of proving that he does not have cancer.


And again, I can only respond "really?" This is a bit like the conservatives who said Thomas, who just happened to be black, was the most qualified person to replace Thurgood Marshall, who just happened to be black. But we're grownups here, and not political hacks, right? We're not even getting paid to talk nonsense, as we sometimes are in our day jobs. So let's not talk nonsense.


I think it's perfectly fair to discuss her gender and ethnicity in the political context. I didn't read Constantin's post as doing that. He was referring solely and exlusively to whether she got into Yale "on merit". That's a different topic. At least it seemed so to me.
5.26.2009 8:00pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Because I didn't want to get bogged down in an argument about what constitutes a "qualification". Personally, I don't think LSAT scores are much of one, but as I say that's a separate discussion altogether.

It isn't a separate discussion at all; it's intimately related with the discussion at hand. But it would be endless, I agree.

No, you can assume or infer that smokers as a group are more likely to have lung cancer. If you are faced with a single individual, the correct approach is to look for symptoms of cancer.

We're down to quibbles. Since cancer is ultimately a disease of persons and not groups, it is logical to infer that an individual smoker is more likely to have cancer than an individual non-smoker. As long as you don't use the fact of smoking without more to diagnose cancer...

I think it's perfectly fair to discuss her gender and ethnicity in the political context. I didn't read Constantin's post as doing that. He was referring solely and exlusively to whether she got into Yale "on merit". That's a different topic. At least it seemed so to me.

It's the same topic. Or a closely related one, having to do with the extraordinary value of Hispanicity to law schools and presidents alike. But I have obviously run out of things to say, since I am repeating myself at this point.
5.26.2009 8:43pm
ArthurKirkland:
Plenty of students are admitted to schools -- good schools and bad -- for reasons other than qualification or merit. If someone begged, borrowed, stole or earned enough to build a library, a grandchild's admission is a trifle. If one's father is a Congressman and CIA director and a wealthy third-generation alumnus, even the most incurious dullard will be welcomed by Harvard and Yale. I'd be more concerned about the objections to Judge Sotomayor if they emanated from people honest and smart enough to recognize that they've supported plenty of "affirmative action" beneficiaries far less able than Judge Sotomayor.
5.26.2009 9:22pm
Desiderius:
Markfield,

"Because I didn't want to get bogged down in an argument about what constitutes a "qualification". Personally, I don't think LSAT scores are much of one, but as I say that's a separate discussion altogether."

Fair enough - I think the "Let's see her LSAT" line does more to extend the reign of AA than to bring it to the speedy demise it so richly deserves. That said, pretending the data doesn't exist (whichever set you like - they all show that Jews, for instance, absolutely pwn whatever group could claim me as a member) has produced enough unintended consequences, even for those of us who'd be comfortable with some more equality, that other alternatives merit consideration.

"No, you can assume or infer that smokers as a group are more likely to have lung cancer. If you are faced with a single individual, the correct approach is to look for symptoms of cancer.

What you would NOT do is put on the smoker the burden of proving that he does not have cancer."

Bingo.
5.26.2009 9:57pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'd be more concerned about the objections to Judge Sotomayor if they emanated from people honest and smart enough to recognize that they've supported plenty of "affirmative action" beneficiaries far less able than Judge Sotomayor.
Hey, that's clever! I bet you're the first person to attempt to redefine "racial preferences" as "affirmative action," and then to redefine "affirmative action" to mean legacy admissions, and then imply that there's therefore no difference between racial discrimination and any other decisionmaking criteria!
5.27.2009 5:45am
Bill Taggart (mail):
What seems more important to me is how she actually has ruled in real cases.

In Maloney v. Cuomo, she indeed was on a panel of the Second Circuit Court that the Second Amendment is not incorporated against the states.

Actually, it is a per curiam opinion and relies on Presser for the notion that the 2A does not apply to the states. It then subjects the NY state law at issue to only rational basis review, because it does not "interfere with a fundamental right".

The discussion seems to me to be flawed, not in the least because it upholds a state law outlawing possession of two sticks connected with rope in the privacy of your own home. The opinion quotes state legislators, who stated in passing the legislation that nunchuks could be used "as a garrote, bludgeon, thrusting or striking device." Yes, and so can a shoelace, a rock, and a stick, respectively. Take two pieces of kindling and tie them together with a shoelace and you've got an illegal deadly weapon, apparently. So because they "can be highly dangerous weapons", it's o.k. to completely ban them from everyone's home. By this same reasoning, the state would be justified in banning anything heavier or sharper than a donut.

And besides, Sotomayor's panel in Maloney v. Cuomo was not breaking any new ground. The Second Circuit already ruled in 2005 in Bach v. Pataki that the Second Amendment did not limit states. So really she was only following circuit precedent.

But I have little doubt that she is not a fan of the Heller decision and that her view of the 2A is quite different than mine.
5.27.2009 9:31am
MarkField (mail):
The VC was so busy yesterday I lost track of this thread.


It isn't a separate discussion at all; it's intimately related with the discussion at hand. But it would be endless, I agree.


I think it's separate because (a) the subject of the thread isn't AA; and (b) the initial comment to which I reacted didn't involve AA in general, but was instead a so-far-as-I-know groundless accusation that Judge Sotomayor only got into Yale because of AA. That is, it was personal to her, not a general discussion of the topic.


It's the same topic. Or a closely related one, having to do with the extraordinary value of Hispanicity to law schools and presidents alike.


See above. I do agree that Presidents use ethnicity for political gain in their appointments. I'd prefer a society in which that never happened at all, but today's practice beats the hell out of the one I grew up in -- the one where the only ethnicity used for political gain was white and the only gender was male.
5.27.2009 11:00am
C S McCrum (mail):
Any summa cum laude graduate of Princeton with a strong record of leadership in extracurricular activities who had won the Pyne Prize would have a pretty decent chance of getting into Yale Law School, regardless of ethnicity. Affirmative-action discussants should go elsewhere.

I have to add that, even though Sonia Sotomayor didn't go to the mythical "Princeton Law School," she does have a law degree from there (honorary Doctor of Laws, 2001).

I knew of Harriet Miers. Harriet Miers was no friend of mine. Sonia Sotomayor is no Harriet Miers.
5.27.2009 8:27pm
cboldt (mail):
FoxNews is reporting the hoax Princeton thesis as fact. ROTFL.
5.28.2009 12:34pm

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