Letter: Sonia Sotomayor and Lisa Murkowski

In 2009, I had a front row seat when history was made with the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. Women from around the country came together to celebrate the confirmation not only of a woman but also the first Latina to sit on the bench. As a woman working in the U.S. Senate, it was an honor to witness up close.

Last week, Alaskans were fortunate to have the opportunity to see Justice Sotomayor in person as she took time off from her vacation to speak at the Dena’ina Center. She discussed her struggles and successes throughout her career as a lawyer and a judge. I was struck by her intelligence, determination and compassion as she spoke and walked throughout the audience.

It was hard amid the celebration, however, to forget that U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted against Sotomayor’s confirmation. I was disappointed that our senior senator did not support this most qualified candidate. Her vote sent the message — intentional or not — that she did not stand with other women as they fight to break down barriers and achieve great things. She later doubled down on this message when she also opposed the nomination of Judge Elena Kagan as well.

At a time when women’s rights seem to be under attack yet again, I wish Sen. Murkowski would use her position as a woman in leadership to stand up against inequities rather than sit silently at the urging of her party. And I wish she would have the courage to support other female leaders who have demonstrated the qualifications and character to be valuable public servants rather than trying to hold them back in the name of partisan politics.

Diane DiSanto,