Three Cheers for Sotomayor

Judge Sonia Sotomayor and I can never forget the mutual experiences we endured as children of the Bronx and fans of the New York Yankees. We both grew up in modest circumstances, the difference being she was blessed with dedicated parents who were inspirational models. I was raised in three foster homes because I inherited divided parents, both the children of immigrants, who fled from each other and me during the Great Depression.

Two and a half decades may have separated our adolescent years, but I'd bet that the Yankees were our subliminal favorites because they were winners at a time when too many of us were surrounded by losers. The Judge will be remembered by many for her decision, ending the seven and half months old strike of major league baseball in 1994. I grew up loving baseball after Lou Gehrig picked me up at home plate, an autograph-seeker, and took me into the dugout in Yankee Stadium in 1937.

But I'm sure it was the poverty of hard times that propelled Judge Sotomayor and me to seek better lives. My youthful years occurred when anti-Semitism was rampant in New York. For the first time I sensed humiliation when one of my foster mothers escorted me to a relief agency where used clothes were thrown in my face. The Judge, I'm sure, experienced the pain of discrimination because she was a Hispanic which went with being considered lower class. Eventually, she sought her way out and up through the law. My path was by way of journalism. Her values were honed through 17 years on the bench. Mine evolved, listening to Edward R. Murrow reporting from the rooftops of London and then meeting him on the border dividing Burma and China; even later, interviewing four honorees of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Somehow, as I watched the first day of confirmation hearings on Judge Sotomayor to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the opinions expressed by the seven aging white men composing the minority of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberately ignored the issue of what is expected of a sitting judge. We can anticipate little difference when the full body of the Senate votes in the weeks to come.