How Justice Sotomayor ushered in today’s identity politics mania



The Supreme Court clerks’ annual comedy revue, presented every June at the justices’ highly private end-of-term party, was one of the crusty old traditions that Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor chose to disrupt. 

Justices had never taken part in the performance. But in 2010, at the end of her first term on the bench, Sotomayor leaped out of her seat as the entertainment ended. 

Exclaiming that the sketches had “lacked a certain something,” the new justice began to dance the salsa to a soundtrack her clerks had secretly arranged. 

It was an awkward breach of protocol for the custom-bound Court. Worse, Sotomayor insisted on pressing each of her colleagues to get up and dance with her — even a visibly reluctant Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose beloved husband Martin had died that same week. 

“Marty would have wanted you to,” Sotomayor assured the new widow as she hauled Ginsburg to her feet. 

Looking on from the back of the room, Antonin Scalia made a wry comment: “I knew she’d be trouble.” 

In “Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster” (Sentinel), out now, 34-year-old Helen Andrews argues that the huge cohort of Americans born into the prosperous post-World War II era has spent decades chasing a collective mission to shatter society’s burdensome shackles — but bequeathed the rest of us nothing but chaos. 

In her first year on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor shocked her fellow justices by doing a salsa dance.
In her first year on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor shocked her fellow justices by doing a salsa dance.

“Today’s millennial wokeness is a lineal descendant of the brand of liberalism that the boomers invented,” Andrews told The Post. “In a way, Sonia Sotomayor is the godmother of the modern millennial activist.” 

In her book, Andrews, a senior editor at The American Conservative magazine, skewers the baby boom generation for tearing down the structures that made their own prosperity possible: the “civilizational cushioning” provided by family, faith, and respect for civic norms and institutions. 

Sotomayor — a quintessential boomer, born in 1956 — is one of Andrews’ prime targets, along with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, academic Camille Paglia, tech pioneer Steve Jobs, and others. 

Raised by her widowed mother in New York City’s public Bronxdale Houses, Sotomayor launched her career in grievance politics during her sophomore year at Princeton University, which she attended on a full-ride scholarship. 

“In 1974, she led the charge at Princeton to get them to hire one of their earliest diversity consultants, to make Hispanic students feel more welcome on campus,” Andrews said. 

Sotomayor filed a formal discrimination complaint against the university with the federal government, then took her campaign to the press. 

“Princeton ended up pouring millions of dollars into an official minority hiring plan,” Andrews said. “I guess that’s one way to repay them for letting you attend for free.” 

By the time she reached the nation’s highest court 40 years later, she used emotional blackmail to sway her fellow justices in an affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas, in 2013. 

“Sotomayor circulated a draft dissent of what she intended to publish if the conservative majority went forward with striking down the University of Texas’ racial preferences program,” Andrews said. 

The bold ways of Boomers like Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin and Camille Paglia have given rise to the identity politics of today, Andrews writes.
The bold ways of Boomers like Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin and Camille Paglia have given rise to the identity politics of today, Andrews writes.
Getty Images (2); WireImage

Her dissent was never published, but insiders said that Sotomayor later repurposed some of its more incendiary passages, including this one: 

Race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.” 

“Justice Kennedy in particular was afraid of being called out as a racist in Sotomayor’s dissent,” Andrews explained. “So he switched sides.” 

His reversal prompted the justices to punt on the case, sending it back to a lower court for further review. A 6-2 majority later ruled that states could ban race-based preferences in college admissions. 

“Rather than basing her decision on any kind of legal analysis, on the facts or precedents, she talked about feelings,” Andrews said of Sotomayor’s approach. “When you open the door to personalized, identity-based justice of the kind that Sotomayor practices, you inevitably open the door to hostility and skepticism from members of other groups.” 

Take, for example, Donald Trump’s 2016 attack on California Judge Gonzalo Curiel. The then-candidate alleged that Curiel’s Mexican heritage made the judge, who was hearing a lawsuit against the Trump Organization, inherently biased against him due to Trump’s hard-line stance on illegal immigration. 

Boomers book cover

“I think it was right that Trump caught flak for saying that,” Andrews said. “When judges rule, it should not matter where they’re from or what their personal identity is. That’s what judicial impartiality means, and we should all have an intense respect for that. 

“But once you open the Pandora’s box of identity-based reasoning, as Sotomayor has done, there is no limit to it,” she said. “You ultimately end up saying, ‘No one except people from my marginalized identity group has any insight at all into this problem; no one else is allowed to speak about it; and my personal experience trumps anything someone else might possibly have to say.’ ” 

This dynamic has extended to today’s culture where woke warriors relentlessly destroy careers, reputations, and even children’s books over years-old comments and formerly innocuous images, Andrews said. 

“The dynamic we see playing out in liberal institutions, from The New York Times to Google, is that the boomer liberals in management are powerless to correct the millennial radicals who work for them. 

“The crazy things the millennial radicals are saying are merely the logical extensions of things the boomer managers have been saying themselves for 40 years,” she added. “They just never thought anyone would take it to such extremes.”


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