Sotomayor's Troubling Senior Thesis

Dare we have a Supreme Court justice who wrote about a controversial political issue 30 years ago?

By Sara K. Smith
|  Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  Updated 10:54 AM EDT
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Oh heavens! Once, when Sonia Sotomayor was a 21-year-old senior at Princeton, she wrote a long academic paper in which she dared to consider what Puerto Rico would look like if it were to gain independence from the United States. This obviously disqualified her from ever serving on the Supreme Court, as we cannot be packing the highest court in the land with radical Puerto Rican separatists.

As everybody can agree, senior theses are one of the best tools we have for evaluating potential Supreme Court justices. Forget about their postgraduate resumes, the many legal opinions they've written, or their history of rulings. No, if you want to know how a person will behave when they don those fancy black robes, you really need to look at their academic work from 30 years ago.

If any of this argument sounds familiar, it's because we had it around this time last year when the nation received word that Michelle Obama, who attended Princeton a decade after Judge Sotomayor, had written a senior thesis about race. Oh, it was truly scandalous to learn that a young African-American female at a predominantly white school might be interested in the experiences of other black people at that school! And it proved definitively that, 20 years later, Mrs. Obama was completely unqualified to be the First Lady due to her unhealthy obsessions.

Similarly, you might look at Judge Sotomayor's thesis and think, "Wow, her senior year in college she wrote a 180-page paper examining the many different angles of a complicated political issue, when most college seniors are just doing keg stands and trying to scrape enough change out of the dryer to buy a pack of Camels," but that is exactly the wrong thing to think. Instead, you should think about whether the Supreme Court really needs some judge who is so excited about Puerto Rican independence.

Sara K. Smith was too lazy to write a senior thesis, and now she suffers the twin punishments of toiling for NBC and Wonkette.

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