Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sotomayor and Diabetes

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

I have nothing to say about the nomination, and very little reaction, other than this seems to be a perfectly fine nomination of a perfectly fine judge who has the temerity not to have a consistent set of beliefs that manage to satisfy every interest group on all poles of every issue.

Our family did, however, get a good yuck out of the Type I diabetes issue, as Judge Sotomayor appears to be the first Type I diabetic to be nominated to the Court, as summarized here in the New York Times.  For the uninformed, Type I diabetes mellitus (also known as juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's antibodies attack and kill (permanently) the insulin producing cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  Insulin is what allows the body to process glucose.  Type I diabetes is a permanent condition (presently) requiring the intradermal injections of insulin for the patient to survive (hence, "insulin dependent").  It is different from Type II diabetes in which pancreatic function is decreased but not killed off.  There appears to be a genetic predisposition to auto-immune diseases (like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis or Type I diabetes), and it's thought that a virus triggers the disease.  There is presently no cure. 

One out of every six hundred people is Type I diabetic.  If you have a diabetic sibling, you have a 5% chance of being diabetic.  We have three children, ages 25, 22, and 20.  All three have Type I diabetes.  My daughter has lived with it for sixteen years.  All three of my children are healthy and successful (presently one in the MFA program in theater at Columbia, one entering med school at Michigan in the fall, one finishing his sophomore year at Stanford).  Other notable Type I diabetes included Jay Cutler, the new quarterback of the Chicago Bears, and Mary Tyler Moore. 

The idea that Type I diabetes is a political issue is just ludicrous.  Justice Scalia seems to be a tad overweight (possibly a candidate for Type II!), and we know very little about the thyroid issues, or atherosclerotic condition of the other justices.  Do any of the male justices have male urinary syndrome that might cause them to go running for the loo during an argument (in which case FloMax will help)?  I'm thinking that restless leg syndrome might be a problem too.

I do appreciate the chance to say that with care and discipline Type I diabetes is a chronic disease that families can manage very, very well, and there isn't a single thing in the world that a Type I diabetic can't do.  But feel free to make a contribution to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

UPDATE:  My wife reminds me there's something a Type 1 diabetic can't do, and that's go into combat.  I'm okay with that.

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I don't think it would matter unless she identified as a person with a disability. Then it might be a boost to the disability rights movement to have a self-identified disabled person on the Court.

Even if there were a few things that she could not do, she wouldn't be disqualified from being a Supreme Court justice. Some things that able-bodied people do in daily life have no bearing on performing one's job as an attorney or as a judge. So I would just caution us not to use the "not a single thing in the world that X cannot do" rule as our benchmark for success in the profession.

Posted by: Carrie Basas, University of Tulsa College of Law | May 29, 2009 9:22:36 AM

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