Ellen Goodman

Clarence Thomas, a fierce advocate for impartiality, has said with icy passion, “In order to be a judge, a person must attempt to exorcise himself or herself of the passions, thoughts, and emotions that fill any frail human being. He must become almost pure, in the way that fire purifies metal, before he can decide a case.” Compare that to Sotomayor’s comment Tuesday that we are not robots: “I think the system is strengthened when judges don’t assume they’re impartial.”

Yes, we are more than a sum total of our experiences. No, the huge majority of cases have nothing to do with race or gender, or being a diabetic for that matter. Yes, judges see through their own lens and beyond it.

But if I may revert to the sports metaphor, this judge who thinks deeply about both life and the law is ready to take the field for the Supremes.