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Seeing yourself (again)

June 2, 2009

In now old news, Obama has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor was raised by a single mother, attended Princeton and Yale Law School, has lectured at NYU and Columbia. Upon confirmation, she would be the third female associate justice seated on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor’s nomination is not important to me only because we will often agree, that having a woman on the bench is instrumentally better for me as a woman than a man of similar politics. (Though Ginsburg’s insight in the Savana Redding case was unique and invaluable on account of her womanhood.) Rather, it’s important to me more along the lines of Jane’s post recently, that it is meaningful to see the Senate publicly declare that someone like me can interpret the constitution, can have a say in some of the biggest legal battles happening in this country today.

So many of the legal issues related to women have to do with our bodies, and what our bodies say about our value: abortion, sexual violence, sexual harassment, affirmative action, discrimination. And the fact that there is just one woman on the bench says a lot about our worth too: it tells us that women’s voices have not been deemed vital to understanding the issues facing women. We do not see ourselves in the law; as the Redding case demonstrates, it can be difficult for the male justices to see us in the law as well.

To Sotomayor, and seeing ourselves.

In related, and equally old news:

President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009. The youngster wanted to see if the President’s haircut felt like his own. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
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