Hearing that more and more members of our highest levels of government are bicyclists is encouraging. From the Associated Press, news that Supreme Court candidate Sonia Sotomayor is a bicyclist:
“She’s a very human person,” [Democrat Chuck] Schumer told reporters after their meeting. They talked New York, he said. “She’s a bicycle rider, I’m a bicycle rider. We talked a little bit about our favorite routes.”
Justice Stephen Breyer caught some attention back in the ’90s for crashing his bike. I don’t know if he’s still riding.
It will be good to have another counter to Antonin Scalia cycling-wise. The New York Times reported on Dolan v. City of Tigard [Oregon]; a 1994 land use case about a Portland suburb’s requirement for a hardware store to contribute right-of-way for a paved trail:
In today’s argument, only Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the Court’s strongest advocates of private property rights, appeared to find no gray area in the debate. He taunted the Tigard City Attorney, Timothy V. Ramis, for his assertion that the city could logically see a bike path as a partial solution to the increased traffic congestion caused by the expanded store.
“Do people go to a hardware store on a bike path?” Justice Scalia asked. “There are a lot bike paths in Washington, and I’ve never seen people carrying shopping bags.”
Mr. Ramis said that as long as a bike path network would take some people off the roads, “it doesn’t have to be the same people” who would make added automobile trips to the hardware store.
I thought back to that Scalia argument when reading Sotomayor’s now-famous speech that has caught her so much flack. As is usually the case in today’s media, the full context of her statement is not covered. One has to seek it out; forget about hearing it on the evening news.
In other writings I have noted comparisons between racial prejudices and “mode-ism” if you will. So please read the following Sotomayor quote in that context.
[T]o understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.
And if you’d like to see the path in question in the Tigard case, go here.