Bench Memos

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“I’m sure she would have restated it”


It emerged Wednesday that Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s infamous 2002 La Raza ’wise Latina woman’ comment was not just inartful, off the cuff, or badly stated.

Sotomayor made an almost identical comment — indeed, an almost identical entire speech — in 1994 in Puerto Rico at the National Conference of Law Reviews in a speech entitled “Women in the Judiciary.”

President Obama, questioned by NBC’s Brian Williams about the 2002 comment last week, and other White House officials, have acted like the comment was just inartful or inadvertent.  Obama claimed, ”I’m sure she would have restated it.”  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that her “word choice in 2001 was poor.”

Sotomayor “restated” it alright, and her “poor word choice” was not momentary, but extended over more than seven years:  It turns out this was a stump speech that she delivered one at least two occasions, at least seven years apart.

Sotomayor’s well-considered theme, in this stump speech she used over the course of at least seven years, is to disagree with Justice O’Connor and New York federal Judge Miriam Cedarbaum’s views that men and women should not (and that good judges do not) rule based upon their own gender, race, or ethnicity.

Sotomayor repeatedly disagrees with O’Connor and Cedarbaum’s notions.  Sotomayor rejects the idea that ’judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to and achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of the law.’  Sotomayor claims that women make different and ‘better’ decisions than men:  she said in 1994, ‘better will mean a more compassionate, and caring conclusion.’

The White House must now acknowledge that this is a hardened view of Sotomayor’s, rejecting impartiality and neutral judging, that it is now impossible to spin away.



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