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Robert Longley

Sotomayor's Latin Woman's Wisdom Statement

By June 3, 2009

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Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, has drawn criticism for a statement she made in 2001: "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." You can bet that some Senators will focus on her words during Sotomayor's confirmation hearings later this summer.

Before you decide on Sotomayor's qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, or not, based solely on that statement, you should read the entire address from which it was taken, "A Latin Judge's Voice," as reprinted in the New York Times.

In the same address, Sotomayor says, "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."

Later in the address, Sotomayor acknowledges the capability of judges "of different experiences or backgrounds" from her own to make rulings showing sensitivity to the needs of the nation's diverse population. "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," she said, referencing the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision banning racial segregation in public schools.

While Sotomayor clearly admits that judges must maintain neutrality, the basis of her speech is that how they were raised, and the lives that they have lived, will ultimately shape all judge's views of justice.

Is is realistic to believe that judges can, or should, always blindly disregard their life experiences in their decisions? Should Sotomayor's "Latin woman wisdom" statement be as controversial as it may become? To be fair, read her entire address, then you be the judge.

Also See:
Sotomayor Senate Confirmation: Not Her First Rodeo
Sotomayor Questionnaire Released by Judiciary Committee
The Supreme Court's Diverse Women (Women's Issues)


June 3, 2009 at 7:00 am
(1) Mark says:

I did read it. It is dripping with love over being a Latino, over being an American. I can only imagine a white person waxing so poetically about being white and then speaking how we’re waiting for another supreme court justice, preferably white, to be appointed.

No, she is color blind only to the extent of her color. I can guarantee you, without a doubt, that she will not be fair in applying the law. She has shown Reverse Discrimination and will do so in the future. Heck, my own bleeding heart liberal wife told me she strongly opposes this woman! That says it al for me.

June 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm
(2) Matt says:

I read the context of the statement and actually believe it’s more damaging to her ability to judge fairly then I previously thought. She has come to the unwavering conclusion that judges are incapable of being just, that they are incapable of wearing the blindfold that is expected of them. I’m not naive to believe that judges do not allow their own race, culture and/or life experiences to influence their decisions-we see it all the time-but the goal in a truly blind judicial system is to ignore one’s own prejudices, to see all angles of a dispute, and have the ability to empathize with all parties. That is truly the only way justice will be blind. Judge Sotomayor has all but proclaimed that she will be a Female Latina Judge and will rule accordingly. Not the right choice for SCOTUS – or any bar at any level. Sad.

September 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm
(3) Maria says:

It is everyones constitutional right to express what they feel. But we have to remember how many time’s the justice system has failed for each and everyone of us;maybe it is time for a change of direction. I believe that just because she is a Latina and a female does not impair her to make fair judgement. Sonia Maria Sotomayor has worked and earned her right to be part of the supreme court justice system . I personally applaud her for not giving up to the biast opinions of males . Rule on Sotomayor and maybe just maybe criminals and those that are innocent will be treated fairly it has nothing to do with race or backgrounds .

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