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  • "Wise Latinas" Make Better Judges: Sonia Sotomayor Meant What She Said

    Last Friday White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tried to defuse the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment claiming: “I think she’d say that her word choice in 2001 was poor, that she was simply making the point that personal experience are relevant for the process of the judging.” President Barack Obama himself later said: “I’m sure she would have restated it.”

    But new documents now reveal that, far from a poor word choice, Sotomayor’s “women make better judges” claim was a common refrain in her stump speech. In the 2001 speech that first caused waves, Sotomayor said:

    Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences … 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 also not so sure that I agree with the statement. … 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.

    In a 1994 speech Sotomayor said:

    Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that “a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion in dueling cases. … I am 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 woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to "Wise Latinas" Make Better Judges: Sonia Sotomayor Meant What She Said

    1. Thomas, Northern NY says:

      A product of affirmative action, quotas, and special treatment. She got her college paid for, now she's going to get even. No good deed goes unpunished.

    2. Dennis Idaho says:

      Solomon was a wise young man but in his personal life he was very foolish (hundreds of wives). The more personal experience he had the less wisdom he showed. Experience is a great teacher if we are good students.

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      This "Latina" thing, the news media pushes, is

      nothing more than a diversion from what Sotomayor is and here opionions. Despite Obama and his mouth

      piece Gibbs, wanting a "do over", will not change

      this leopard's spots. She is what she is. The real

      question is, will the republicans be fooled and allow themselvies to be intimidated into "not"

      asking important questions for fear of being attacked by the media and Demos.

    4. Jerry, Allen, tx says:

      I would rather have someone (in a position to do so) give us a review of her actual case decision(s) to see what she really decides when the chips are down. Frankly, I don't give a d–n who or what she is so much as WHAT she is. My real concern is that we have a stampeding President who will sacrifice quality in any position so long as he can put in a minority in gender, race, or religion. When he can gather all in one appointment, he seems to feel he has done his job. We need to work on getting him out of office rather than worrying too much about his appointees.

    5. Jerry from Chicago says:

      A truly wise person, Latina or otherwise, would know that you can think a lot of things and also know what things are better left unsaid.

      Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    6. Mike Lacroix says:

      Both of these articles show that Sotomayor not only discriminates against anyone who isn't Latina, but also against age. Either one of these statements should automatically discualify her from a seat. Simple common sense should tell anyone this.

    7. Teresa Rice says:

      This nomination needs to be stopped. Sotomayor is promoting both racism and sexism. She needs to do the honorable thing and drop out. But, if she doesn't Republicans need to stand up for conservatism, block her nomination. If that doesn't work then give her the grilling of a lifetime and reveal how much of an activist judge she really is. Maybe Republicans can convince some moderate Democrats to move over to their side and block Sotomayor from being confirmed.

    8. Whicket Williams Kin says:

      I heard that there are seventeen recorded instances of her making this statement. I would like to see them all referenced in one article. Anybody?

    9. Richard, Spring TX says:

      What do you expect from someone educated in a left wing, affirmative action environment. If you think this is bad, it's only going to get worse.

    10. Barb -mn says:

      It's the judges' job to see all of the human race as equal and judge according to the crime. Not ANYTHING ELSE. Sonia and her actions, speak something different and therefore, should not be considered.

    11. Joe White, Quinton T says:

      This "Latina" is so-o-o-o NOT qualified to sit in judgement on any issue that affects other Americans; especially with her unspoken, but very clear disregard for the Constitution.

      Nowhere in it does it specify "empathy" or that there has to be anything such as "affirmative action" which gave rise to her even being in law school….was she even qualified to be accepted as a student?

      Decent people in Congress, if there are enough, should bounce her application.

    12. Fiore Files, Long Is says:

      I think that Sonia SotoMayor has a deep seated racist streak that will be dagerous to the majority of Americans when she takes her place on the federal bench. She is a product of the left radicals in this country and will judge, or should we say, legislate from the bench that way. She was chosen by Obama who is in himself a radical left person. This is not the President or the Justice the American people voted for.

    13. C, Missoula says:

      Far from racist, this statement is based on what is called, in social theory, standpoint epistemology. We can all agree that we come to a decision informed by the richness of our experiences. But groups that are historically oppressed have a different set of experiences and knowledge bases than people who are privileged. People from oppressed backgrounds know not only their own oppression, but must also learn about the lives of the privileged, as has Sotomayor. On the other hand, one of the privileges of wealth, class, gender, race privilege is the privilege of NOT knowing anything about those who are oppressed. Thus, those coming from an oppressed background MUST know more, understand more than those, in the same ultimate position, than those who have never known what it is to deal with evictions, money that runs out before the end of the month, boxes from food pantries that are designed to last three days, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, no escape from abusive relationships, emergency rooms instead of primary care physicians… If the "wise Latina" from Judge Sotomayor's class background hasn't experienced those herself, she personally knows people who have been through that life. It is highly doubtful that a "wise man" from an upper middle class, white background has been through those things, and therefore does not have the same or even comparable knowledge base. Thus one "would hope," as the judge said, that a "wise Latina" would make a better decision. Not that all Latinas similarly situated would make a better decision. We need to pay attention to the "would hope" language which actually places a greater burden on this "wise Latina" than on the "wise [upper middle class, white] man." She had BETTER do better because in a way, she has advantages that the "wise man" does not.

    14. icono1, Lexington Ky says:

      "The true lawgiver ought to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. "

      Edmund Burke

    15. B Houston Tx says:


      I could not disagree more with what you have written. Hardship, itself, does not make you a better person and it does not make you better able to interpret the Constitution. Josef Stalin, was an oppressed minority. He executed over 1 million Jews. By your comments, he MUST know more and understand more than someone in the same ultimate position. Hardship does not automatically make you wiser, just like being wealthy and White doesn't make you a better decision maker. It's not the experience, it's what you take away from it. That is what you & Sonia do not understand.

    16. Michael Crutchfield/ says:

      Some of these comments amaze me!! Richness of experience has nothing to do with the ruling on the firefighters case. As Justice Sotomayor has already indicated, she believes that the role of the court is to set policy! WRONG

      The court is to interpret and apply the law. By definition those white firefighters were the victims of discrimination. Had the situation been reversed, and minorities been the only ones to pass the promotional exam they would have certainly been promoted. Had they not, and the test thrown out, how do you think this justice would have ruled.

      This should have been a Slam-Dunk No-Brainer. Discrimination is discrimination.

      I am glad to see that The Supreme Court got one right. What is discouraging is the fact that four of the nine got it wrong. Guess even a blind squirrel will occasionally find the acorn.

    17. Roger S., MA. says:


      thanks for the sociological take on Sotomayor, but that's also her very own, and no amount of repetition or apologia, not even in extenso, will make a falsehood true. The quality of life's experience may be a judicial asset at the district court level. Where the rare accused may truly be an underprivileged victim of the system, as well as guilty, insight into particular human nature could be helpful in differentiating a draconian penalty against a hard-core villain from the milder punishment of a defendant who is sorry for a one-time mistake he is not likely to repeat. This much I'll grant you. The rest is leftist-liberal BS. At the Supreme Court-level a judge is faced with interpreting the constitution. That means applying some very abstract legal and philosophical principles to often quite fiendishly convoluted concrete events. Having substantial impact upon the lives of countless citizens for an indeterminable time. Impacting even the lives of generations yet unconceived. Where the most complete rationality and clearness of thought will be required. Where her feelings from race, gender, national origin, or privilege have no place at all. There, a district court judge's attitudes are about as desireable and appropriate as wearing sandals to formal attire.

      To icono1: You missed the point. She's NOT to be a lawgiver. Do you even understand the difference ? We have plenty of lawgivers in the Congress and the Senate. She's supposed to be a judge, meaning on the Supreme Court an arbitrator of disputes at the very highest level our constitution provides. You may cite as much Burke as you like. It doesn't apply. As it is, we have too many judges who fancy themselves activists, stretching their powers of judicial review to usurp legislative functions. That, among others, would often be the sort of case she'd have to decide. Heaven help us if it's a close opinion and she's having that kind of a day!

    18. carol b florida says:

      SOMEONE NEEDS TO ASK SOTOMAYOR IF SHE agrees with ANY OR ALL of these scriptures…

      Psa 64:9 ALL men shall fear, And shall declare the work of God; For they shall wisely consider His doing.

      Psa 116:11 I said in my haste, "ALL men are liars."

      Act 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands ALL men everywhere to repent..

      Php 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to ALL men. The Lord is at hand.

      1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men..

      Luk 18:14 … for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


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