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Key Excerpt: Graham and Sotomayor on Gender

CQ Transcriptions

GRAHAM: I think, for a long time, a lot of talented women were asked, can you type? And were trying to get beyond that and improve as a nation.

So when it comes to the idea that we should consciously try to include more people in the legal process and the judicial process, from different backgrounds, count me in.

But your speeches don't really say that to me. They -- along the lines of what Senator Kyl was saying -- they kind of represent the idea, there's a day coming when there'll be more of us -- women and minorities -- and we're going to change the law.

And what I hope we'll take away from this hearing is there need to be more women and minorities in the law to make a better America. And the law needs to be there for all of us, if and when we need it.

And the one thing that I've tried to impress upon you through jokes and being serious, is the consequences of these words in the world in which we live in. You know, we're talking about putting you on the Supreme Court and judging your fellow citizens.

And one of the things that I need to be assured of is that you understand the world as it pretty much really is. And we've got a long way to go in this country, and I can't find the quote, but I'll find it here in a moment -- the wise Latino quote.

Well, do you remember it?

(LAUGHTER)

SOTOMAYOR: Yes.

GRAHAM: OK. Say it to me.

Can you recite it from memory?

I've got it.

(LAUGHTER)

All right.

"I would hope that a wise Latino (sic) woman, with the richness of her experience, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male." And the only reason I keep talking about this is that I'm in politics. And you've got to watch what you say, because, one, you don't want to offend people you're trying to represent.

But do you understand, ma'am, that if I had said anything like that, and my reasoning was that I'm trying to inspire somebody, they would have had my head? Do you understand that?

SOTOMAYOR: I do understand how those words could be taken that way, particularly if read in isolation.

GRAHAM: Well, I don't know how else you could take that. If Lindsey Graham said that I will make a better senator than X, because of my experience as a Caucasian male makes me better able to represent the people of South Carolina, and my opponent was a minority, it would make national news, and it should.

Having said that, I am not going to judge you by that one statement. I just hope you'll appreciate the world in which we live in, that you can say those things, meaning to inspire somebody, and still have a chance to get on the Supreme Court.

Others could not remotely come close to that statement and survive. Whether that's right or wrong, I think that's a fact.

Read the entire exchange between Sen. Graham and Judge Sotomayor. Read more on Sotomayor's personal comments and experiences.

By washingtonpost.com  |  July 14, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Personal Comments & Experiences  
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