Earlier today, our diligent front page editor Justin Elliott picked up on a curious article in The Hill about conservative critics of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
As you may have noticed, those critics have repeatedly cited a speech she delivered in 2001 at U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, in which 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.”
The right is, of course, outraged. In the same speech, though, she also got a bit more personal: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir – rice, beans and pork – that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events,” she said.
My Latina identity also includes, because of my particularly adventurous taste buds, morcilla, — pig intestines, patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ feet with beans, and la lengua y orejas de cuchifrito, pigs’ tongue and ears.
Good lighthearted fun, right? Wrong.According to Hill reporter Alexander Bolton, “This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.”
Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn’t certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.
Slightly gobsmacked, I called Bolton earlier today and asked him whether this was for real–whether any conservatives were genuinely raising this issue. He confirmed, saying, “a source I spoke to said people were discussing that her [speech] had brought attention…she intimates that what she eats somehow helps her decide cases better.”
Bolton said the source was drawing, “a deductive link,” between Sotomayor’s thoughts on Puerto Rican food and her other statements. And I guess the chain goes something like this: 1). Sotomayor implied that her Latina identity informs her jurisprudence, 2). She also implied that Puerto Rican cuisine is a crucial part of her Latina identity, 3). Ergo, her gastronomical proclivities will be a non-negligible factor for her when she’s considering cases before the Supreme Court.
Got it? Good. This is the conservative opposition to Sotomayor.
Bolton said that Levey was mum on the, um, culinary analysis, and pivoted back to his standard critique of the Second Circuit Judge, which I highlighted earlier.
For what it’s worth, “patitas de cerdo con garbanzo” are not “pigs’ tongue and ears.” They’re pigs’ feet with chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)… and they’re delicious.