I found this post and find it hits the nail on the head!
Sotomayor’s Latina woman comment, which was later published in a law review article, can be criticized on a conceptual basis. Sotomayor’s comment indicates that she does not distinguish between the category of (a) relationships between intimates and (b) relationships between rights-bearing individuals.
Relationships between intimates involve a form of social recognition that includes empathy, care, and compassion. These are all qualities relevant in our relationships with family and friends.
In contrast, relationships between rights-bearing individuals involve respect, a concept that is defined in several ways in the legal world. These ways include defamation law, libel law, civil rights law, even corporate and condominium law where respect manifests itself as fiduciary duty (the duty to think in terms of the good of the whole business or condominium corporation, as opposed to one’s personal good).
I find it bizarre that two people trained in the law, Sotomayor and Obama, demonstrate so little understanding of the discipline they were trained in. Why aren’t law professors, lawyers, sociologists, etc., not picking up on the quite obvious category errors these two people are making? This is an obvious case where Sotomayor and Obama have demonstrated they are using incoherent conceptualizations about relationships between rights-bearing individuals. There is a philosophical and legal literature on the topic. Obviously Sotomayor and Obama didn’t read that literature, or didn’t understand it.
I think this e-mail is overly generous. It leaves out a third possibility that I think is very likely. They read that literature and understood it and simply ignore it because it is inconvenient. The ends justifies the means.
Thank you for posting your response. I say similar things but can not explain it as well to the degree you have.
As to the people who know better concerning the law not speaking up, I think they see the reaction to people who do and are intimidated.
Being called a racist bigot by people who don’t know better but have the power to make your life miserable gets old fast.