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m PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 5, 2009 By Lyn Payne Associate Editor Quick--Can you name all seven of the current and former U.S. Supreme Court justices who have been Jew- ish? A handy little Web site, adh_sc.html, lists the jus- tices by religious affiliation: We all know Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bider Ginsburg on the current court, and many will recall from reli- gious school history class that Louis Brandeis was the very first Jewish justice, ap- pointed in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. Herbert Hoover appointed Benja- min Cardozo, and Franklin Roosevelt appointed Felix Frankfurter. John F. Ken- nedyappointedArthur Gold- berg, who resigned in 1965 to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Lyndon Johnson filled the vacant slot with his long-time friend Abe Fortas. Though President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor isn't Jewish, her thinking on issues such as civil and reli- gious liberties has the poten- tial to significantly affect the American Jewish community on issues it cares about. This promises to be an inter- esting summer, as we all get to learn more about Sotomayor during her Senate confirma- tion hearings. The Heritage has compiled this list of reliable online sources of news and in- formation about the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor, and the confirmation process: Need to find out the truth about any political chain e-mails or rumors floating around the Internet? PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, is the winner of a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the 2008 national election. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine state- ments by members of Con- gress, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in Washington. They research the statements and then rate the accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter as True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True and False. The most ri- diculous falsehoods get their lowest rating, "Pants on Fire." PolitiFact already has plenty of information about Judge Sotomayor, and about state- ments made by and about her. Fact- Check, a project of the An- nenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsyl- vania, is "a nonpartisan, non- profit 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." It monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Its goal is "to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to in- crease public knowledge and understanding." The Annen- berg Center says it "accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals." "SCOTUS" stands for "Su- preme Court of the United States," and SCOTUSBIog does nothing but follow the day-by-day activities of the high court. It's run by Tom Goldstein, co-head of the law firm Akin Gump's firm- wide litigation and Supreme Court practices, Goidstein has argued 21 cases befol, e the Supreme Court, including matters involving federal pat- ent law, class action practice, labor and employment, and disability law. In addition to practicing law, he teaches Supreme Court Litigation at both Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. SCOTUSblog, widely re- garded as one of the nation's premier legal Internet sites, continues to parse the issues surrounding Judge Sotomay- or's nomination daily. Oyez is "a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States'and its work." It aims to be a cor plete and au- thoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a record- ing system in October 1955. "The project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers avirtual reality 'tour' of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices." The official Web site of the Supreme Court, featuring information about its docket and latest opinions. The Web site of the United States Senate Committee~ on tlie Judiciary, at http:// nations/SupremeCour t/Su- premeCourt.cfm: This official governmentWeb site answers questions about the Judiciary Committee, its members and procedures, and explains its confirmation process for nominees to the Supreme Court. The Religious Action Cen- ter of Reform Judaism's Web site, at cacy/issues/judicialnoms/ supremecourt/sotomayor/ allows readers to submit questions they would like to ask Judge Sotomayor, which the RAC will thensubmit to the senators involved in the confirmation process. By Steve Lipman New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--Sonia So- tomayor has ruled on only a limited number of cases directly involving the Jewish community or Jewish issues during her 17 years as a federal judge, but her record seems reassuring, according to legal experts and representatives of Jewish organizations. President Barack Obama last Tuesday nominated So- tomayor, from the 2nd U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. to succeed Associate Justice David Souter, who is stepping down from the Supreme Court when its current session ends this summer. "I have no idea where she stands on issues of interest to our community," said Alan Dershowitz. professor of law at Harvard University and a prominent Jewish activist. Dershowitz said he has presented cases before So- tomayor several times. "She impressed me as a careful, thoughtful, very well-pre- pared judge. She asked very hard questions. Lawyers like hard questions. I think it's a good choice." Most people contacted by The Jewish Week said they cannot offer a balanced com- ment on Sotomayor's record before her entire judicial re- cord is examined during the Senate confirmation process, but are comfortable with what they have learnedso far about her background. "There are no red flags," no indication in her judicial record that Sotomayor inter- prets law from a doctrinaire left-wing or right-wing per- spective, or that she has taken positions that may be inimical to Jewish interests, said Marc Stern general counsel of the American Jewish Congress. "She's not stood out on our issues." he said, referring to the quantity of Jewish-related cases on which she has issued decisions. "In general, she has not ruled on church-state issues." While Sotomayor has ruled on few controversial social issues like abortion rights, "'she's not a blank slate" in her wider experience at the 2nd Circuit, Stern said. "She's got a long record, which people will be picking over endlessly" in the upcoming Senate hearings. The Orthodox Union's In- stitute for Public Affairs wrote on its blog this week that "an early survey" of the judge's opinions "on religious liberty issues is very encouraging." The OU blog cited cases in which Sotomayor upheld the constitutional right of a rabbi to display a menorah in a city park, upheld the rights of prison inmates to wear multiple strands of beads under their clothes as part Of the Santeria religion, upheld the right of a Muslim inmate to take part in an Islamic religious feast and. in a case of a 70-year-old minister fired by a Methodist church, recognized the importance of protecting religion from state interference. In 2004. she and her 2nd Circuit colleagues unani- mously affirmed the re- vocation of citizenship of Ukrainian-born Jack Reimer, who was accused of taking part in Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II. "On the issues that affect Orthodox Jewish life the most, an initial look at her record is very, very positive," said Na- than Diament. director of the Institute for Public Affairs. He cautioned that the institute, which disseminates relevant background information on judicial nominees, does not endorse or oppose candidates. "She seems to have a firm commitment to the exercise of religious freedom and the ap- propriate limits that govern- ment places on the practice of religion," Diament said. "I think it's a very promis- ing choice--her experience is really quite impressive." said Mark Pelavin, associate direc- tor of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "She's very strong on free exercise [of religion]." "Clearly, she is more or less in classic terms a liberal, but she's a centrist." Pelavin said. "She has worked with judges all across the spectrum in forming a consensus." Sotamayor, a 54-year-old native of the Bronx who worked as a Manhattan as- sistant district attorney under Robert Morgenthau after graduating from Yale Law School, would become the first Hispanic member of the Supreme Court. She was named a U. S. District Court judge by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. and was promoted to the 2nd Circuit by President Bill Clinton. Supporters say her bipar- tisan appointment history Bush is Republican; Clinton, a Democrat--should guarantee backing from both parties in the Senate. While in private practice in 1986, was joined ayoung lead- ership tour of Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Com- mittee's Project Interchange, visited~ Israel again in 1996 as a federal judge, and recently became part of a Project In- terchange U. S.-Israel forum on ir~migration. "She enjoyed Israel not just from an intel- lectual perspective, she liked the music and the people," said Paul Berger, husband of Project Interchange founder Debbie Berger. While most observers said their early impressions of Soto- mayor's competence and experi- ence are favorable, Washington attorney Nathan Lewin, who has often represented Jewish interests, called her a "me- diocre" choice for the Supreme Court. "Her [written] opinions have beenvery run-of-the-mill." Lewin said he has appeared before Sotomayor at the 2nd Circuit a few times, none of which he can recall. "She does not stand out in my mind." But. he added, her con- sistent rulings in favor of religious freedom indicate that"she would be a very good justice." The National Jewish Demo- cratic Council said. in a prepared statement, that Sotomayor is "committed to our constitutional values. right and liberties.., has the intellectual capacity and real world experience to be aworld class justice." Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, A JTA blog post by Ron Kampeas A2001 speechby Supremes candidate Sonia Sotomayor is raising hackles because of her remarks to the effect of: Old man: wise; old Latinawoman: even wiser. Ben Smith At Politico uncovers something even more unsettling--her taste for pig flesh. Here he quotes Sotomayor: "For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gan- doles y pernir--rice, beans and pork--that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events. My Latina identity also includes, because of my particularly adventur- ous taste buds, morcilla--pig intestines, patitas de cerdo con garbanzo--pigs' feet with beans, and la lengua y orejas de cuchifrito, pigs' tongue and ears." I've just written about Sotomayor's close ties to the Jewish community and how much she loved Israel on her two visits there. That said, dinner at her home might be, urn, a problem. [ mean, feet, ears. tongue andintestines is there apart not on the menu? On another matter: No. Benjamin Cardozo was not the first Latino judge. I'm Sephardic, my parents spoke Ladino as a first language, and I would never consider myself "Hispanic." Itwould be hugely presumptuous to do so. First of all, language is the critical signifier in such a designation (something Sotomayor addresses in her speech). I'm pretty sure Ben- jamin Cardozo was born generations after his ances- .tots stopped speaking the language. Bill Richardson and Sotomayor do speak the lan- guage. (And eat the pig feet!) It's more complex than that, even for those of my parents' generation who spoke the language. The story of Spanish-speaking Jewry is the story of a slow, inevitable death, of culture, of language. My ancestors left Spain and Portugal with two identities: Jewish and Spanish. Span- ish identity passed long ago. Jewish attachment, at least comparatively, thrived. Why is anyone's guess: Why remain attached to a culture that reviled you? And then, Turks and Greeks were likelier to identify my ances- tors as Jews than as Spanish speakers and how you're defined in your surround- ings is critical, no matter how autonomous we imagine identity to be. And yet, and yet: My parents both traveled to Spain as soon as it opened up, in Franco's final years. They loved being able to deplane and converse freely with the locals as eas- ily as if they had landed in New Zealand. They loved the questions they got about their accents. They toured the synagogues-turned-churches and brought back colorful picture books. They loved that Eydie Gorme, a New York- born Sephardia, recorded an album in Spanish that was a massive hit in Latin America. And yet, and yet: When I was 13 andbought my mother a record of romanceros, tra- ditional Ladino ballads, for her birthday, she couldn't listen to more than a track without weeping. She was fiercely proud as a Jew, and eventually immensely proud that I moved to Israel, but she made it clear she didn't want any further reminders of this past. This was a culture that was slowly but surely crushed, by the Spanish queen, then by Hitler, then by the ultra- nationalistic homogeneity that swept through the Bal- kans in the last century, and then by the exhaustion of its preservation. What did it mean, what was it worth, to speak Spanish? Judaism had meaning that reached into notions of God, of our place among our families, among ourselves, in Span- ish was a... language. Had my parents returned to Turkey (they briefly considered it, after a few bone-chilling Ca- nadian winters) I would have "belonged to the generation that would speak Turkish. that would reject Ladino as politically incorrect. My parents spoke Ladino, my older sisters understood it, I could piece together a little here and there, and I'm emblematic of this genera- tion's Sephardic Jew. I researched a little, and un- covered a few things about the past my parents weaned me away from: Durme, Durme, for instance, a traditional lullaby that featured on the al- bum that drove my mother to tears. I asked my sisters if they remembered the song; they, born in Turkey, did; I, born in Montreal, did not. My mother sang me songs from the 1930s and 1940s movies that had made North America her ambition: "Shine on Harvest Moon" and "When I'm Calling You" (with its ridiculous no- tion of how Mounties pursued showbound maidens). Not "Durme Durme." Ten or so years ago, I visited Salonika for the first time in my life. (My mother's family, descended fromvintners, took its name from a vine laden valley to its north; two of my grandparents were born there; another ancestor earned the honorific "Pasha" functioning as a kind of treasurer to the provincial leader in the late 19th century.) I stayed with Greek friends. and when they asked about my (Greek-sounding) last name, I would try to explain but itwas like enthusing aboutVespas at a bikers rally: It was all about Greeks vs. Turks. What was this about the Jews? No one even knew that the city once had a Jewish plurality; they were vaguely aware of a Jew- ish quarter. My Greek friends were oth- erwise immensely hospitable, andwondered howagrandson of Greeks could not handle the language and insisted on calling me Ronnus and plying me with retsina. At one point, I couldn't take much more and retired to a bedroom over the balcony. I closed my eyes and drifted Pork on page 19A