The landscape of American politics is littered with asininity. Anyone with even a vague knowledge of our history knows that. But the latest means to which Republicans are willing to go to derail the SCOTUS nomination of Sonia Sotomayor may take the all-time top prize. Think pigs' feet with chickpeas!
The crazy talk started earlier tonight when Talking Points Memo front page editor Justin Elliott noticed an odd passage contained in an article in The Hill about conservative strategies for opposing Sotomayor's nomination which focused on a speech she gave in 2001 at the Berkeley School of Law.
Conservative critics have latched onto the speech as evidence that Sotomayor is an "activist judge," who will rule on the basis of her personal beliefs instead of facts and law.
"Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see," Sotomayor said. "My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."
Sotomayor also claimed: "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."
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' feet with chickpeas - 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.
"It's pretty disturbing," said Levey. "It's one thing to say that occasionally a judge will despite his or her best efforts to be impartial ... allow occasional biases to cloud impartiality.
"But it's almost like she's proud that her biases and personal experiences will cloud her impartiality."
Having seen this piece on the possible Republican "eating pigs' feet with chickpeas clouds judicial impartiality" line of attack, another Talking Points Memo staffer, Brian Beutler, thinking that there's no way any of this could actually be true, followed up with The Hill's Alexander Bolton, who reported the piece, for confirmation that this asshattery was really being taken into consideration.
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.
This definitely beats the time Strom Thurmond tried to derail the nomination of Thurgood Marshall by saying that the robes worn by justices would fit him too tight around the crotch, thereby impairing his judgment. And no, this didn't actually come from The Onion.