Actually, Comparing Sonia Sotomayor to Sarah Palin Is Kind of Insulting

No, Sotomayor is not getting Palin-ed.

No, Sotomayor is not getting Palin-ed.

I’m the last person who is going to stand up for the media’s crappy treatment of Sarah Palin during the Presidential elections, but I do think intelligence and achievement are fair issues to bring up when considering an elected official or a Supreme Court justice. And while I don’t think Sarah Palin is dumb, do think it was pretty clear that she did not know the necessary basics to fulfill the role of Vice President (I also think it’s pretty clear that Bush didn’t know the necessary basics to fulfill the role of President).

It’s ridiculous to compare someone like Sarah Palin to someone like Sonia Sotomayor. Yes, they have both endured sexist attacks. But suggesting that they’re being attacked in the same unfair way? No. It’s a little more complicated than “Sarah and Sonia are both being called dumb.” The reality is that Sarah Palin was a governor with very limited political experience who sold her candidacy on her “values” and attacked intellectualism as “elitism.” Sonia Sotomayor has more experience than nearly any other current member of the Supreme Court at the time of their appointment. She got into Princeton by the sheer force of her hard work and intelligence — not an achievement that many (or even most) college students can claim. She graduated at the top of her class, and went on to Yale Law, where she was an editor of the Law Journal. She was appointed to the federal district court by George HW Bush, and then to the Second Circuit by Bill Clinton, where she penned hundreds of opinions and heard thousands of cases.

It’s a slap in the face to mention her name in the same sentence as Sarah Palin, let alone argue that the two women are intellectual equals. I have no desire to discuss Palin’s intelligence or to bring her down, but I’m confused as to why we’re bothering to bring her up here.

Jill Filipovic is a New York-based freelance writer and a law student at NYU. More of her writing is available online at her blog, Feministe.
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