Home > Feminism, Students > Pacific Political Science Major Emily Sheldon Enters the Blogosphere

Pacific Political Science Major Emily Sheldon Enters the Blogosphere

Feminists For Choice » An Activist Judge? I (unfortunately) don’t think so…

Another member of the Pacific Political Science Department is now participating in the public discussion of the issues of the day.  Emily Sheldon joins the bloggers at Feminists for Choice

Emily is completing her senior year at the University of the Pacific where she double-majors in Political Science and Gender Studies. She competes for the Pacific Speech and Debate Society, traveling both nationally and internationally to discuss current events. Emily has an extensive background in the field of reproductive health, including former positions with both Women’s Health Specialists and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Her current area of interest is reproductive health clinical trial ethics, with an emphasis on microbicide clinical trials. Emily hopes to someday run a major, advocacy-based non profit organization, preferably in the area of sexual and reproductive health.

Here is a sample of what Emily has to say in a recent post about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 

Throughout the confirmation process, Sonia Sotomayor has distinguished herself from prospective candidates and future colleagues by self-identifying as a “wise Latina” and explaining how her life experience, the daughter of immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx, expands her views of the world and gives her a leg up in comparison to other justices.

Critics have demonized these statements, claiming they foreshadow an attempt to legislate from the bench. They have referred to her as an “activist judge,” and Senate Republicans latched on attempting to prevent her confirmation. However, from my own personal research, “activist judge” seems to be code for any individual who upholds the Constitution in a more just and fair way for all citizens of the US, not just a select few. Perhaps all justices would interpret the US Constitution differently if they truly understood the realities experienced by ethnic and gender minorities, along with those surviving day to day on the streets.

However, when analyzing this “wise Latina’s” view on abortion, will that supposed unique understanding of the lives of women in poverty translate into the same type of judicial support displayed by predecessor David Souter? Unfortunately, the jury is still out. While Sotomayor has caused a stir in the feminist community with powerful statements, her record on reproductive health seems to be minimalist at best.

The New York Times released an article prior to the confirmation hearings stating that Sotomayor had only previously ruled on two cases related to choice and had sided with the anti’s on both occasions. However, Nancy Keenan, head of NARAL, recently revoked her earlier opinion that the general public didn’t know enough about Sotomayor’s views on the subject. Instead, Keenan believes that statements made during the confirmation hearings were adequate to view Sotomayor as an individual who believes a woman’s right to choose is protected by the constitution. With a variety of cases headed toward the Supreme Court, including same-sex marriage, it’s only a matter of time before we all see Sotomayor’s true feminist colors.

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