Guest Editorial: Ward Connerly
Obama is not a ‘post-racial’ President

By Ward Connerly | June 10, 2009

On the night of his Primary victory in South Carolina, the supporters of then-Senator Barack Obama were chanting “race doesn’t matter.” This chant reflected what the campaign wanted the American people to believe about the candidate; namely, that Obama was a “post-racial” candidate. When I watched the campaign rally and heard his supporters excitedly chanting what they did, I wanted to believe all of this was genuine and Senator Obama, as a “biracial” man, truly transcended race in his identity, but more significantly in how he approached the issue of race as a matter of public policy.

Since the election, however, I have come to realize, regrettably, the chant was little more than an empty political slogan and indeed, race matters very much in the Obama Administration. No greater evidence need be produced than the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

In a major concession to identity politics, President Obama has nominated Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who has announced his retirement at the end of the current term this June. I am not going to comment on the question of whether Judge Sotomayor is qualified or not, nor will I comment in this column on the controversy involving some of the things she has said and written prior to her appointment.

What concerns me is the fact that President Obama made it very clear he wanted to appoint a female and a Latino. No males were interviewed and the ancestry of Judge Sotomayor was made the defining criteria when her appointment was announced. As was reported in a major daily, President Obama indicated his inclination to appoint Sotomayor at the outset of his administration and, once the Obama team evaluated her, she “checked all of the grids” because “… she was a Latina. She was a woman.”

It is also disconcerting that Judge Sotomayor considers her personal background and experience not only relevant but of high priority to the decisions she makes as a judge.
President Obama is in agreement with this approach to judging, as he has stated he wants to appoint judges who are “empathetic.”

The primary reason our nation is not obeying its own Constitution and the command of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to treat all of its citizens as equals, without regard to race, color or national origin, is because our courts over the years have applied factors other than the law to their decision-making processes.

I am fully aware Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed, unless it is discovered during the confirmation process she has some serious character flaw that makes her unfit to be confirmed or hasn’t paid her taxes during the past 40 years or so. With Democrats controlling the Senate and the political investment the president is making in the historical significance of appointing the first Latino to the Supreme Court, there is virtually no chance his fellow Democrats in the Senate will not exercise their muscle to confirm the president’s nominee.

For the sake of our country, the integrity of the Constitution, and the need for public confidence in our judicial system, I pray every Senator will at least extract from Judge Sotomayor a hard commitment to obey the rule of law and to place the Constitution ahead of her personal experiences.

As for moving our nation forward toward a “post-racial” society, that task must wait until another time, because it certainly does not appear that such a goal is on the agenda of the Obama Administration.

One path for the attainment of this objective is for states to take steps on their own to reduce and eliminate the influence of race, gender, skin color, national origin and ethnic background from the public arena. If we believe in and want a “colorblind” society, then we, the American people, are going to have to get rid of racial distinctions our government makes and demand our states, cities and counties treat us all as equals. We must insist upon preferences for none based on the factors cited. Anything less is not what America promises to its people.