The Best of Days, The Worst of Days

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

It was a day of personal schizophrenia for me.

I woke up on the west coast with news of President Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme court. My heart swelled with such pride. Over the years, I've had occasion to meet Judge Sotomayor and watched her ascent in judicial circles with such pride.

Perhaps my veneration and personal belief in Judge Sotomayor come from the fact that she and I have a similar "pedigree" of sorts. We're both of Puerto Rican descent, from public housing projects in the Bronx. We both went to Princeton, she went to Yale Law School. I was only wait-listed at Yale, and opted to go to Stanford Law School instead.

Over the years, I watched from afar as she broke one glass ceiling after another. And today felt like the culmination of not just one remarkable woman's career, but of the sacrifices of generations of immigrant parents who struggled to give their kids a chance at achieving the pinnacle of the American dream. "Que dios me la bendiga" — may god bless her — my grandmother would have said today on Judge Sotomayor's behalf. And grandma was always right.

Then three hours later, my mood worsened. As one glass ceiling was being shattered and as America was overcoming centuries of discrimination against women and Latinos, one other ceiling was being reinforced with concrete and steel over the heads of gay and lesbian couples in California.

As proud as I was to be a lawyer in the morning, I was disgusted at my profession this afternoon. How could any judge — or any lawyer— not understand what Prop. 8 was really about? What is the role of the judiciary if it is not to protect the minority from the whims of the majority? I sat in the courtroom that day when Prop. 8 was argued, as I watched judges and lawyers struggle in legal speak as they tried to rationalize a decision to take away people’s rights. Was Proposition 8 an amendment or a revision to the state constitution? The first case that granted us full civil rights was a case of first impression. This second case that took away our new-found rights wasn't a case of first impression. The people — the homophobic majority — has spoken. I guess I just have to lump my civil rights. The majority speaks.

In the afternoon, I went back to the clips of Judge Sotomayor talking of her personal triumph, and hearing President Obama speak of the importance of having a Supreme Court justice speak with empathy for the powerless. While the ACLU does not officially endorse or oppose U.S. Supreme Court candidates, I have never been personally prouder of any appointment.

After watching the evening clips, I asked my media office to check and see if President Obama said anything about Prop. 8 or if a written White House statement was issued to the thousands of lesbians and gays in California who were relegated to second class citizens. Hope springs eternal.

The answer from my press office:

"Obama has not said anything about Prop 8 today. When asked for reaction at the White House press briefing today at 3:48 p.m., Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said:

'The issues involved are ones that, ah, you know where the president stands.'"

"Brilla con su ausencia," my grandmother would say when one of her 12 grandkids didn't show up for her birthday. "He shines in his absence."

President Obama's empathy for lesbian and gay Californians shines in its absence today — my grandma would tell him.

May Judge Sotomayor's deep empathy rub off on all Americans.

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Vic Livingston

THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY IS WELL AWARE OF THE EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK SPAWNED OR EXPANDED UNDER BUSH-CHENEY..

...A POLICE STATE APPARATUS THAT CONTINUES UNDER OBAMA.

WHAT GOOD IS AN ENLIGHTENED SCOTUS NOMINEE IF A PARALLEL SYSTEM OF VIGILANTE INJUSTICE IS COVERTLY PROMOTED AND FUNDED BY FEDERAL SECURITY/MILITARY/INTEL AGENCIES...

...WHO HAVE CO-OPTED LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT NATIONWIDE TO CREATE A COVERT AMERICAN GESTAPO...

...THAT IMPLANTS GPS TRACKING DEVICES ON THE VEHICLES OF INNOCENT BUT "TARGETED" U.S. CITIZENS AND THEIR FAMILIES... AND USES MICROWAVE RADIATION "DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS" TO DEGRADE THEIR MINDS AND BODIES.

While the media is distracted by the "stories of the day," democracy is being stolen at the grassroots -- and the domestic TORTURE and gradual financial expropriation of the "unjustly targeted" continues unabated under an apparently "unaware" Team Obama.

Please read this:

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-ter...

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Daniel

What's so good about Sotomayor when she rules that the bill of rights doesn't apply to the states, but only federal government? see Maloney v. Cuomo

Paen

If real change will happen it will be in large part because of strong women with real power.

Maggie

If I had a case going to the Supreme Court I would want it judged by the rule of law not by someone's feelings. That is certainly against the constitution.

So far I have heard her speak twice. Using racial slurs does not make me real happy. Also she has had 6 of her decisions go to the Supreme Court and so far; she has been reversed 5 times.

Usually it is not the powerless that goes to court it is the lawyers.

Jill

May I ask a question? I worry a great deal about the lawless behavior of the executive branch. I read Scotusblog on Judge Sotomayor's opinions. They stated that she did not have any on executive power. On privacy the said she had ruled against 2 FOIA requests because fulfilling them would be burdensome to the agency. This worries me because it shows deference to governmental authority.

Are you able to share your thoughts about the FOIA rulings and anything else concerning executive power issues?

Thank you.

Sarahmarie

The California ruling on Prop 8 has me discouraged and confused. Did they rule on the constitutionality of such bans or not?

Two other questions have arisen in my mind in the wake of the ruling. First, don't bans on gay marriage violate the Establishment clause of the First Amendment? Second, does the ex post facto clause of the US Constitution provide adequate protection from a gay marriage ban being applied retroactively at the local level?

JVali

Sorry about your "Bad" day it will be noted as one of my best. ACLU is for "truth" and I wonder what you think about the Superior Court of CA. issuing that order to release Occidental College data on Berry Soetoro as a Foreign aid student with a Fulbright Scolarship and how that would apply to the USA Constitution regarding his election to the President of the USA..

Defend The Cons...

Sonia Sotomayor is a racist and an enemy of our second amendment civil right to keep and bear arms.

californiaguy

I am sorry, but what is Anthony DOING about this. His self-important blogging without committing to action is just gotten tiresome. "his" press office, "his" media office - this is the ACLCU for goodness sake, not "his" private organization. It is time for Anthony to retire and we get someone in there who actually believes in action, not just talk.

Stan J. Bozek

The majority of the people in California want to persecute Gays and Lesbians because it is a familiar way of treating us.Never in my 61 years have I witnessed a group of people given a civil right only to have it taken away from them.
History was made in my state of Massachusetts when the majority of state
justices realized that it is within the right of every citizen to get married.
So there you have two history making events.I can only hope that justice will come to my brothers and sisters in California.

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