July 31, 2009

Stuart Taylor on Sotomayor, Gates And Race

Stuart Taylor has a well written column on the failings of Sotomayor and Gates in regards to race.  The part about Sotomayor is particularly insightful.  

Contrast Douglas's vision with the quota mentality displayed by Sotomayor's complaint in 2001, in one of her "wise Latina" speeches, that "we [Latinos] have only 10 out of 147 active [federal] Circuit Court judges and 30 out of 587 active District Court judges. Those numbers are grossly below our proportion of the population[emphasis in original text]."

Sotomayor ignored the fact that the talent pool for judicial appointments is not the general population but rather the population of lawyers with the experience and accomplishment to qualify. By that measure, Latinos were overrepresented in the federal judiciary, as Ed Whelan, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has documented. "According to the ABA," he wrote, "in 2000 the percentage of lawyers who were 'Hispanic' was only 3.4 percent [and] the very numbers that Sotomayor complained about equate to 6.8 percent of federal Appellate judges ... and 5.1 percent of District judges." ...

These preferences are not justified by what Sotomayor called "cultural biases built into testing." To the contrary, as a predictive matter the SAT is biased in favor of blacks and Hispanics; studies show that on average they do worse in college than whites with the same SAT scores.

Pushing for more integration of our elite institutions is a worthy goal. But, as studies show, the racial preferences used by selective colleges today are so great as to bring in academically ill-prepared students, clustering most blacks in the bottom 10th of their classes (in GPA) and most Hispanics in the bottom quarter.