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Sonia Sotomayor and the Future of Anti-Islamist Speech
by David J. Rusin • Jul 20, 2009 at 11:30 am
The United States holds a unique advantage in the fight against radical Islam: buttressed by the First Amendment, Americans' freedom to speak and write about the Islamist threat is unmatched anywhere in the Western world. However, such protections can suffer at the hands of judges who seek to mold the Constitution according to their own personal preferences. With Sonia Sotomayor nearing confirmation to the Supreme Court, there is no better time to explore which judicial approaches are most likely to weaken First Amendment rights.
Three qualities in particular should set off alarm bells for those concerned about free speech:
Unfortunately, all three of the above qualities are reflected, to some extent, in Sotomayor's past remarks. A sampling: "Our society would be strait-jacketed were not the courts … constantly overhauling the law," she wrote in 1996, effectively offering a thumbs-up to legislating from the bench — where, as she once put it, "policy is made." Furthermore, she asserted recently that "foreign law will be very important in the discussion of how to think about the unsettled issues in our own legal system"; she also has cited foreign cases in her decisions. Finally, her musings on the virtues of the "wise Latina woman" and the possibility that gender and ethnicity "will make a difference in our judging" do not bode well on the identity politics front.
Radical Islam will never be defeated without the freedom to discuss faith and culture frankly — even if it means offending some Muslims. With hate speech laws and grievance tribunals, much of the West is on the wrong path. America must not follow — not for a single step.