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Key Excerpt: Sessions on 'Wise Latina' Comment

CQ Transcriptions

SESSIONS: Well, I will just note you made that statement in individual speeches about seven times over a number of years span. And it's concerning to me.

So I would just say to you I believe in Judge Seiderbaum's (ph) formulation. She said -- and you disagreed. And this was really the context of your speech. And you used her -- her statement as sort of a beginning of your discussion.

And you said she believes that a judge, no matter what their gender or background, should strive to reach the same conclusion. And she believes that's possible.

You then argued that you don't think it's possible in all, maybe even most, cases. You deal with the famous quote of Justice O'Connor in which she says a wise old man should reach the same decision as a wise old woman. And you pushed backed from that. You say you don't think that's necessarily accurate. And you doubt the ability to be objective in your analysis.

So how can you reconcile your speeches which repeatedly assert that impartiality is a near aspiration which may not be possible in all or even most cases with your oath that you've taken twice which requires impartiality?

SOTOMAYOR: My friend, Judge Seiderbaum (ph) is here this afternoon, and we are good friends. And I believe that we both approach judging in the same way which is looking at the facts of each individual case and applying the law to those facts.

I also, as I explained, was using a rhetorical flourish that fell flat. I knew that Justice O'Connor couldn't have meant that if judges reached different conclusions -- legal conclusions -- that one of them wasn't wise.

That couldn't have been her meaning, because reasonable judges disagree on legal conclusions in some cases. So I was trying to play on her words. My play was -- fell flat.

It was bad, because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case, but that's clearly not what I do as a judge. It's clearly not what I intended in the context of my broader speech, which was attempting to inspire young Hispanic, Latino students and lawyers to believe that their life experiences added value to the process.

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

By  |  July 14, 2009; 11:07 AM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Personal Comments & Experiences  
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