Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Suburban Mom's Political Fix: Is It Sexist to Question Sotomayor's Judicial Temperament?

That was the question raised on MSNBC's Morning Joe this AM: Whether South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham would've asked a male Supreme Court nominee about his reputed tough demeanor in the courtroom and then inquire if the nominee had "a temperament problem."

Co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough asked author and former Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers -- she wrote Why Women Should Rule the World -- about whether a double-standard was at work with Sotomayor's questioning. After noting that of the 111 Supreme Court judges ever to hold office, only two have been female, Myers discussed the importance of getting more women to serve on the highest court in the land:

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Below you'll find the video of Graham's confirmation hearing questioning so you can make your own call on the matter. Citing the comments of anonymous lawyers who called Sotomayor "a terror on the bench," "abuses lawyers" and is "a bit of a bully," Graham said, "I never liked appearing before a judge that I thought was a bully . . . Do you think you have a temperament problem?"

Is this a case of holding strong, tough women -- who insist that those around them exhibit the same level of excellence as they do -- to a different standard than we do to men? The classic "she's a b*&%$" while he's a striving, high-powered executive with smarts?

UPDATE: Salon's Broadsheet blog puts an interesting twist on the "temperament" question, pointing out two examples -- questions about John McCain and John Bolton's temperaments -- which say that simply raising the issue of a hot temper doesn't necessarily make the questioning sexist.

The web site Feministing quoted a former Yale Law School dean who looked into rumors about Sotomayor being "overly aggressive" on the Court of Appeals and said he didn't find any substantial difference between her questioning of attorneys and male judges' inquiries.

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