Words matter everywhere, but American society hinges on every word that comes out of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yet, in order to win confirmation to the high court, Sonia Sotomayor wants us to believe that her words should be dismissed lightly. That they've been taken out of context. That they were poorly chosen by her. That they don't mean what they appear to mean. That she was just joking.
Is that how she wants us to approach her written rulings as well -- to just read into them what we want, or better yet, what she wants us to read into them after the fact?
Or is she going to flip a switch at some point in time and boom! it's time to take her words at their face value?
Of course, we're being hopelessly naive and idealistic to believe that words, actions, rulings or anything else matter in the Sotomayor confirmation process. The only things that matter in this process are the numbers: Democrats have the 60 senators necessary to blunt any opposition.
Her confirmation hearing is more of a coronation.
How sad, because words do matter -- especially at the Supreme Court.
She once said policy is made at the federal appeals court level; she cynically joked that she shouldn't admit such a thing, especially on camera.
Today, however, we're supposed to believe that was "taken out of context."
She once said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who has not lived that life."
Today, however, that was just a play on words. "My play on those words fell flat," she told senators, calling it "a rhetorical flourish that fell flat."
A "rhetorical flourish"? That "fell flat"? What the heck does that mean? Play on words? So it was just a bad joke, a poorly turned phrase (which, by the way, she used more than once)?
It's amazing what outlandish fiction the public, media and senators will swallow when they don't want the facts to get in the way of the sheer coolness of elevating the first female Hispanic to the high court.
Even liberal Georgetown University law professor Louis Michael Seidman wrote, "I was completely disgusted by Judge Sotomayor's testimony today. If she was not perjuring herself, she is intellectually unqualified to be on the Supreme Court."
Alas, neither words, nor any other facts, seem to matter.
But just one more question:
If her past words, by her own admission, have such pliability and ambiguity, does she view the words in the Constitution as equally fungible?