05.28.09

The Secret Code Words of the Sotomayor Confirmation Battle

Supreme Court nominations require the media and politicians to develop their own delicate code words. Otherwise, you're liable to be accused of a "high-tech lynching." So what does it mean when someone calls Barack Obama nominee Sonia Sotomayor "vibrant," "domineering," or even "Maria"? The Daily Beast has assembled a glossary to guide you through the upcoming debate over her nomination.

Supreme Court nominations require the media and politicians to develop their own delicate code words. Otherwise, you're liable to be accused of a " high-tech lynching." So what does it mean when someone calls Barack Obama nominee Sonia Sotomayor "vibrant," "domineering," or even "Maria"? The Daily Beast has assembled a glossary to guide you through the upcoming debate over her nomination.

The Bronx
-noun

1. A borough of New York City that confers authenticity on those who are born there: Born in the South Bronx, she was raised in a housing project not far from Yankee Stadium, making her a lifelong Yankees fan.— Barack Obama;

Sonia Sotomayor—who rose from the broken-glass streets of a city housing project to become the Supreme Court's first Latina nominee—says she's just a "kid from the Bronx."— Daily News.

colorful
-adjective

1. Hispanic; esp. Puerto Rican: Sotomayor's humble upbringing has shaped her personality—vibrant and colorful, and so different from the Bronx projects where she grew up in a working-class existence in a home with a drab yellow kitchen.— Associated Press.

[A] brilliant, accomplished and colorful choice to replace Justice David Souter— Ronald Goldfarb.

domineering
-adjective

1. bitchy; behaving like a female in a position of power: [Sotomayor] is reportedly domineering in oral arguments. — Fox’s Bill Hemmer;

She has an inflated opinion of herself and is domineering during oral arguments— Jeffrey Rosen.

empathy
-noun

1. a condition unique to liberals whose symptoms include spinelessness and cowardice: Crazy nonsense empathetic. I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness.— Michael Steele;

In the president's now-famous word, judging should be shaped by " empathy" as much or more than by reason.— The Wall Street Journal.

inspiring
-adjective

1. born into poverty: I've decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York.— Barack Obama.

Judge Sotomayor has an inspiring story of success in the face of hardship.— Blanche Lincoln.

Maria
-noun

1. a name that for some Republicans is interchangeable with “Sonia”: The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric.— Mike Huckabee.

policy
-noun

1. any number of liberal causes, including abortions and affirmative action run amok: [The] Court of Appeals is where policy is made.— Sonia Sotomayor.

Quota Queen
-noun

1. a minority woman who emasculates white men through affirmative action: She’s something of a Quota Queen.— Ron Dreher.

racist
-noun

1. a minority person who suggests that racism still exists and should be corrected: Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse- racist.— Rush Limbaugh;

White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.— Newt Gingrich.

social justice
-noun

1. a communist revolution or plot: [Obama] wants someone who is smart enough, but whose real priorities can be boiled down to trite lefty tropes about " social justice."— Jonah Goldberg.

temperament
-noun

1. similar to disposition; something that can disqualify a female judicial appointee: Substantial questions also persist regarding Judge Sotomayor’s temperament and disposition to be a Supreme Court justice.— Michelle Malkin;

She really lacks judicial temperamentAlmanac of the Federal Judiciary.

unsatisfied
-adjective

1. aggrieved, esp. with regard to a minority person who fails to appreciate what has already been given to him or her: Sotomayor was ultimately unsatisfied by the appointment of Luis Garcia as associate dean of student affairs in September 1974.— Michael Goldfarb.

affirmative action
-noun

1.The condition of being a successful minority: She is an affirmative action case extraordinaire and she has put down white men in favor of Latina women.— Rush Limbaugh;

I say it’s affirmative action. They were picked because she’s a woman and a Hispanic.— Pat Buchanan.

vibrant
-adjective

1.see COLORFUL.

Ben Crair is an assistant editor at The Daily Beast.