NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #20

Supreme Court Judges & Driving

Yesterday morning I was scheduled to do a radio interview for a Chicago public radio station, the subject being our recent press release on the 10 worst states to drive in (I paraphrase). About an hour before the interview the station called and said the time slot was being pre-empted because the President was going to announce his new Supreme Court Nominee. I gracefully accepted my lesser status and agreed to do the interview later in the morning.

The interview went off on schedule and seemed to go well. However, my curiosity was pricked concerning the new Supreme Court nominee. I read a smattering of articles describing Sonia Sotomayor and the one word the repeatedly popped up was “diversity.” She was a “she;” not many of them on the Supreme Court. She was Hispanic; none of them on the Supreme Court. But what do those qualities really tell us about the person, or for that matter why she brings “diversity” to the U.S. Supreme Court? I mean, why does she bring more diversity to the Court than say a one legged white guy from Wyoming who grew up on a chicken farm? I would venture a guess that not another member of the court meets those specs.

I thought about Sonia in terms of her “empathy” (another common descriptive term) for NMA issues. She was raised in New York City, went to private and prestigious schools in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and returned to New York City for most of the rest of her working life. Heck, she may not even have a drivers license? I’ve long assumed most Supreme Court judges wouldn’t know a steering wheel if they had one in their hands. The plebeian routine of driving to and from work is probably but a vague memory. Makes you wonder if any of them ever enjoyed being pulled over by a trooper with a bad hair day and had their car tossed for drugs—maybe Clarence Thomas? This level of detachment from the reality of life is probably where the court comes up with gems like “there is no expectation of privacy in an automobile on a public road.”

I’m in no position to second guess or speculate on Ms. Sotomayor’s slant on motorist issues, but somehow I think we might get a better shake from the one legged white guy from Wyoming; for sure he drives (automatic).

Jim Baxter
NMA President

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