Bench Memos

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Sotomayor’s Wise Latina Lie


In the course of answering Senator Leahy’s question, which included his distortion of her wise Latina quote, Sotomayor attempts to rehabilitate her quote by saying that she was agreeing with Justice O’Connor’s sentiment about a wise old man and a wise old woman reaching the same conclusion.  But in fact, she disagreed with O’Connor.  Here is the quote in full:

Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

And so, Judge Sotomayor’s attempt to re-write the past continues, but her own published words contradict her.


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