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Jack is really a storyteller, international explorer, and humanitarian and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does.  As a trial lawyer and trial skills teacher aroud the world, its his most important tool. As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally.  As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world and its people as much as he himself is captivated.

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Saturday
Jun302018

Justice Sotomayor Made Me Proud to be an American This Week

It was the summer of 2009 and she sat at a small table in Washington DC before a large group of Senators, all towering above her quite purposely.  As I watched, they all seemed to be there for the same reason, to mug for the cameras and to make themselves look good, smart, capable, competent, angry, whatever.

Some supported her confirmation, others absolutely didn't and it was clear that no matter what she said, no matter what she did, it really wouldn't make much difference.  The woman in a red blazer was Judge Sonia Sotomayor and she had been nominated in May of that year by President Obama to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  And one point was clear, she was the smartest person in the room that day and really made most, if not all, of the Senators seem like lightweights  

As a reporter, I sat in that room and wrote my stories and shot video and took still shots. But most importantly, I was stunned by her intellectual acumen and also her empathy and understanding. Above is a photo I shot that day that I never published. Its not particularly well framed or interesting, some of the people are sleeping including her aged mother sitting behind her.  However, Sotomayor was on fire and it caught a moment for me.

Fast forward nine years, and I continue to be stunned by this Supreme Court Justice.  This week, the Supremes upheld the President's travel ban. Lets be clear. This was a purposeful ban on Muslims. How did I know? Because I believe the President's words. He said it. I am confident he meant it and his supporters loved it. Of course, the President's people subsequently layered over those words with pretexts like "national security." Its a phrase that camouflages all sorts of sins. As a former CIA officer, I can say that with confidence.

In the end, I guess i wasn't surprised at the Court's decision based upon the makeup of the Court itself. However, what did surprise me was Sotomayor's blistering, yes I said blistering, dissent. She compared the majority's decision and logic to Korematsu v U.S.  This is the Japanese Internment camp case that was justified based upon fear of a group and then wrapped inside the banner of national security.  This was exactly Sotomayor's point.

She put it far better than I could. "As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about a particular group's supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States." So, the racist fear of seventy years ago is the same racist fear applied today and the same arguments of national security aren't any better now than they were then.  Damn . . . 

This blistering attack even drove Chief Justice Roberts, the author of the majority opinion, to finally denounce Korematsu and call it bad history and bad law.  Let's say simply, he can denounce it from here to the end of time but he absolutely affirmed the logic with his decision.  Regardless, Sotomayor along with Justice Ginsberg were having none of it.

The final line of her opinion says it all, "I dissent," not "I respectfully dissent" which is the common practice. Your Honor, Justice Sotomayor, I was stunned 9 years ago.  I am even more stunned now. As a former CIA officer, as a former journalist and as a lawyer who has been in and out of courtrooms for decades, I say this simply but definitively, you made me proud to be an American this week.  

Thank you.  

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