Rove's Law

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Rove's Law is an eponymous law of politics which states:

Never say anything that you wouldn't want reduced to a three-second sound bite on the news.

It was developed by blogger ACG on the blog "Submitted to a Candid World" which he originally stated as:

If you can’t express a complex political issue without using a string of words that, reduced to a three-second byte, sounds unpatriotic or otherwise inapt, don’t express it at all.[1]

Or when he gets even more worked up:

Never attempt to say anything insightful, comical, or otherwise geared to provoke independent thought, if it can be quoted out of context in a manner likely to ‘offend’ right-wing sensibilities.[2]

It is based on the political spin developed by Karl Rove that favors talking points over extended political discourse. When attempting to smear a political opponent, single sentences, or even parts of sentences, are picked out of a speech and used to represent their views. Based on this quote mining, a label can then be attached to this person.


Sonia Sotomayor[edit]

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor gave the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she said:

In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to 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.[3]

And the part that was quoted as a sound-bite:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Producing the talking point: "Sotomayor is a racist".

But consider Rove's very own racist slavery "joke" that he told to an African American woman:

I did you a great favor bringing you into politics in the 1860 campaign and this is how you repay me?[4]


See also[edit]