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Sotomayor Used ‘Wise Latina’ Before

From an understanding Associated Press:

Gender and heritage a frequent topic for Sotomayor

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 5

WASHINGTON – Sonia Sotomayor told the Senate on Thursday that the White House never questioned her about cases or issues she might have to decide as a Supreme Court justice, a disclosure gleaned from reams of documents that reveal she has spoken repeatedly about how her gender and Latina heritage affect her judging.

The federal appeals court judge divulged new details about her finances and provided three decades of writings, speeches and rulings that give both supporters and critics fresh fodder for the coming debate on her confirmation. They include more instances in which she said she hopes a "wise Latina" would reach a better decision than a man without that experience.

The comments in 2002 and 2003 echo a much-criticized remark she made in 2001 at the University of California-Berkeley law school that has prompted a furor among conservatives who say they suggest President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee brings a personal bias to her legal decisions.

Obama has said he is "sure she would have restated it." In fact, she said it almost precisely the same way in speeches to the Princeton Club in 2002 and one at Seton Hall law school in 2003, according to copies she sent the Senate.

Sotomayor has told senators in private meetings this week that while her background shapes who she is, she believes judges should follow the law above all.

The documents also reveal that the White House first contacted Sotomayor about the nomination four days before Justice David Souter announced he would retire.

Sotomayor first got a call from White House counsel Greg Craig on April 27, then had near-daily contact with his office after Souter’s announcement May 1. She spoke to about a dozen White House aides during the secretive selection process, leading to a face-to-face interview with Obama on May 21

The files were delivered in five cartons to Capitol Hill in response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. They arrived as Sotomayor wrapped up a series of one-on-one meetings with more than two dozen senators…

The White House and Senate Democrats said her quick response to the committee’s questionnaire should pave the way for prompt hearings…

Despite what the Associated Press says, Ms. Sotomayor remarks did not merely ‘echo’ her later comments at Berkeley, they are practically word for word.

Here is what Ms. Sotomayor opined in her 2001 Berkeley speech:

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.

Here is what Ms. Sotomayor said in her 2002 Speech To The Princeton Club (a pdf file):

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 make and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that "a wise old man and a wise old woman 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 the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Prof. Martha Minnow is correct, 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.

And again in in her 2003 speech to Seton Hall (a pdf file):

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 make and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that "a wise old man and a wise old woman 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 the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Professor Martha Minnow is correct, there can never be a universal definition of "wise." Second, I would hope that a wise Latina 10 woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.

So, no, it was not a slip of the tongue.

It was not a one time mistake.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, June 5th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Sotomayor Used ‘Wise Latina’ Before”

  1. bronzeprofessor

    Hello all,

    Here is where I think conservative critics are missing a golden opportunity: her references to “inherent” differences are the big problem, not the other stuff everyone keeps quoting.

    In the field of ethnic studies, this “essentialism” has been roundly debunked since the late 1970s. Essentialism, sometimes used as a way to rally groups around a common identity, has been noted as the most pernicious source of stereotypes. Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Gloria Anzaldua, and every other theorist classified as “postcolonial” has rejected essentialism.

    Conservatives need to confront this head on.

    Sincerely,
    Robert O. Lopez
    http://www.bronzepage.com

    • I am so glad you stopped by to become part of our community! I enjoy my daily visit to your blog.

      I wish I’d had a professor like you when I went back for my undergrad degree. Alas, sensible professors are a rare breed (an probably extinct in the SF Bay area!) and I did not have the opportunity to trip over one like you! ;)

    • tranquil.night

      What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in your classes, Professor Lopez.

      While it is awe-inspiring to see Rush spanking Emanuel and the egghead dream-team up and down the court on a daily basis, I also agree with you that there is such a great opportunity to educate people on why we conservatives don’t believe it’s racist that people are treated the same in all circumstances, irregardless of any circumstance, as it pertains to race, heritage, or gender.

      The Supreme Court is an identifiable representation of our nation’s dedication to above all things the essential truths of human law. With this nomination, there is a great chance to affirm what those truths are within this context, why they’re irrelevant to someone’s racial/gender perspective or cultural history – and why it is dangerous to abandon the pursuit of truth by empowering this essentialist ideal. We need voices like you out there too, sir, spreading the good news!

    • jobeth

      I Just read your 100 questions about yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      You should be a great thought generator around here and your comments should help keep us on our toes.

      So…welcome to the fray!

  2. proreason

    Rush is driving the nutters, well, nutso.

    He is saying on his show that there is a better than 50% chance Red Sonia is pro-life, and that he, Rush Limbaugh, could be persuaded to support her if he could be convinced that were true.

    This has GOT to being twisting their feeble minds into little pretzles.

    And they are way too stupid to figure out that he’s playing them like a Stradivarius.




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