Similar Lives Led Sotomayor, Thomas Down Different Paths

On and off the bench, they often work at cross-purposes
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2009 11:29 AM CDT
Judge Sotomayor and Justice Thomas have walked parallel paths and yet arrived at contrary conclusions, not only on legal questions, but on personal ones, too.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – The lives of Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas have parallels—humble beginnings, fatherless childhoods, Yale Law, affirmative action—but their conclusions are contrary. “For the first time, the Supreme Court would include two minority judges, but ones who stand at opposite poles of thinking about race, identity, and opportunity,” Jodi Kantor and David Gonzalez write in the New York Times.

Sotomayor celebrates her Latina heritage and has spent her life building affirmative action programs. Thomas, meanwhile, has spent his trying to undo them, viewing himself as a scarred survivor of a disingenuous program. But plaguing both has been the nagging fear that others view them as lightweights who advanced because of race. If Sotomayor is confirmed, they’ll have much to discuss.