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Sotomayor Explains 'Wise Latina' Comment

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By Robert Barnes, Amy Goldstein and Jerry Markon
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor this morning emphatically disavowed an earlier statement that implied she allowed her ethnicity to affect her judgment from the bench, as she found herself being grilled by the leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor was quickly put on the defensive as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) pounded some of her lower court rulings and a statement in a speech to students about the perspective a "wise Latina" could bring to judicial decisions. Sessions said Sotomayor "clearly" lets her background and personal feelings affect her decisions.

The comment was "a rhetorical flourish that fell flat," President Obama's nominee said in one of several attempts to explain herself, none of which seemed to satisfy Sessions. She added, "It was bad, because it left an impression that I believe that life experience commands a result in a case, but that's clearly not what I do as a judge, clearly not what I intended."

At the opening of the hearing, committee chairman Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) tried to defuse the anticipated questioning by allowing Sotomayor more friendly opportunities to explain the controversial parts of her record.

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By Web Politics Editor  |  July 14, 2009; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Video Report  
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Next: District Council Member Proposes "Barack Hussein Obama Park"


I find it interesting how little this hearing has to do with the nominee's qualification to serve as a judge.

It's mainly about watching the GOP Circus send in the clowns.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 14, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

It's shocking to see the racism from BHO supporters. Oh, wait, it isn't shocking at all.

As for her "rhetorical flourish", it's one she kept making over a long time period: she'd said "wise Latina"-like comments several times. You'd think if it "fell flat" she would have found new material, but she kept on saying similar things.

If anyone wants to do something, send this to all your friends:

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 14, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Privileged white boys rarely understand the value of encouragement because they rarely have failed to get it.

Posted by: falcon269 | July 14, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

If she had reiterated her earlier statement that she chose her words poorly, her response would have been perfect.

As it was, the explanation seemed a bit strained and self-exculpatory.

But in the end, it's much ado about nothing.

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 14, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse


Much ado about nothing.

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Sam Alito used his opening statement to emphasize how his experience as an Italian-American influences his judicial decision-making:

"But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country" . . . .

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."

A couple of weeks ago Justice Alito cast a vote in favor of an Italian-American plaintiff in a discrimination - affirmative action case.


Posted by: toritto | July 14, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Good start for Sotomayor so far. Sessions is doing no favors for image of the GOP...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 14, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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