The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Supreme Court

Court Watch: Wise Women, Impacting the Courts?

By Garance Franke-Ruta
* CQ's Seth Stern reports that Sonia Sotomayor is awfully fond of the wise woman construction that's gotten her into such hot water.

"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," he writes.

"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."

* Still lighting up the blogs is a 2008 study by Christina L. Boyd, Lee Epstein, and Andrew D. Martin that finds wise men and wise women actually do judge the same way -- with one crucial difference. "Applying matching methods to thirteen areas of law, we observe consistent gender effects in only one -- sex discrimination. For these disputes, the probability of a judge deciding in favor of the party alleging discrimination decreases by about 10 percentage points when the judge is a male. Likewise, when a woman serves on a panel with men, the men are significantly more likely to rule in favor of the rights litigant. These results are consistent with an informational account of gendered judging and are inconsistent with several others," they write. They've also detailed their results here in The Post.

* Sotomayor's documents submitted to the Judiciary Committee reveal she owes $15,000 in dental bills.

* And this very cool graphic on the ideological history of the court gives a sense of how liberal or conservative each Supreme Court justice was between 1937 and 2007 -- as well as what the ideological trajectories on the bench have been.

Posted at 9:01 AM ET on Jun 5, 2009  | Category:  Supreme Court
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If someone is lucky enough to pursue a career, that is worth its 'salt,' for the best among us-- a record will show high and low points.

I am not concerned so much about her cases which have been overturned, but rather about her entire record of accomplishments. And from what I have gleaned thus far, she deserving of "A" for excellence.

Its on that record, I support her as the next woman to sit on the Supreme Court. She has a 'stellar' background and irrespective of how she will 'decide' when she gets there, I can only see her as an advantage, value- added to our judicial system.

Posted by: Victoria5 | June 6, 2009 4:25 PM

Garance, thank you for posting the WUSTL study. It's a fascinating read.

Posted by: Kili | June 6, 2009 12:02 PM


Do sit down and read her decisions. They're fascinating. Don't "wonder" based on your preconceived notions. If you truly care, don't be lazy; do the research.

Posted by: Kili | June 6, 2009 11:35 AM

Which part of RACIST do you Liberals not understand?


Using the Bench to push your personal agenda is unethical for a Judge.

Majority of her rulings have been turned over.

Compelling Sunday movie life's don't make good judges, common sense does and FOLLOW THE LAWS to the letter!

Posted by: HernandezUSA | June 5, 2009 10:28 AM

60 percent of her cases were overturned from a higher court . this has little to do with performance and more to do with getting a vote and playing the race card its troubling that obma is supposed to stop this and he now leads in picking someones race over there job performance

Posted by: getsix1 | June 5, 2009 10:15 AM

The bulk of her decisions have been overturned? You need to do the research:

From SCOTUS Blog:

Since joining the Second Circuit in 1998, Sotomayor has authored over 150 opinions, addressing a wide range of issues, in civil cases. To date, two of these decisions have been overturned by the Supreme Court; a third is under review and likely to be reversed.

Unless 2 out of 150 is "the bulk" I think you should consider a retraction.

Posted by: armymed2 | June 5, 2009 10:01 AM

A person's self-image is quite telling when one attempts to determine true motive and objectives. A dog breeder that claims "I breed gladiators" is not breeding friendly, fuzzy pets. A "jurist" that is more pre-occupied with her gender, her ethnic background, her self-worth, is not interested in the preservation of anything else. A perfect pick for a self-absorbed, elitist administration. Is it any wonder that the bulk of her 'decisions' have been overturned?

Posted by: jubalharshaw | June 5, 2009 9:51 AM

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