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Unwise: Sotomayor’s Stump Speech

John on June 5, 2009 at 12:40 am

Apparently Judge Sotomayor’s comment about a “wise Latina” coming to a “better” decision than a white male (first published here at VS in connection with her nomination), wasn’t a fluke. In fact, it appears to have been part of a stump speech of sorts:

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested “a wise Latina woman” or “wise woman” judge might “reach a better conclusion” than a male judge.

Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor’s responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire, (to see Sotomayor’s responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee click here and here) suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a “wise Latina” judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.

A draft version of a October 2003 speech Sotomayor delivered at Seton Hall University stated, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.” That is identical to her October 2001 remarks at the University of California, Berkeley that have become the subject of intense criticism by Republican senators and prompted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to label her “racist.”

In addition, Sotomayor delivered a series of earlier speeches in which she said “a wise woman” would reach a better decision. She delivered the first of those speeches in Puerto Rico in 1994 and then before the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York in April 1999.

The summary descriptions of speeches Sotomayor provided indicated she delivered remarks similar to the 1994 speech on three other occasions in 1999 and 2000 during two addresses at Yale and one at the City University of New York School of Law.

Her repeated use of the phrases “wise Latina woman” and “wise woman” would appear to undermine the Obama administration’s assertions that the statement was simply a poor choice of words.

The poor choice of words defense is now inoperable. So what’ s the fallback here? That it doesn’t matter? That we should look at the entire record, as Gibbs so desperately tried to suggest several times last week?

That answer made more sense when Sotomayor had only uttered these words once. Now that we know she uttered them repeatedly over a period of many years, it’s no longer an outlying data point. It’s what she believes.

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Category: Politics |

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