I think the phrase that has gotten the least scrutiny in Sotomayor’s famous line about the wise Latina woman is the bit about inherrent physiological differences:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice [Sandra Day] 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 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 experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
Is she talking about the differences between men and women? If so, Larry Summers, call your office.
Is she talking about different races? Well, that’s interesting too. Or at least it should be. Then again, Jeremiah Wright explained that black brains are wired differently than white brains, and yet it was the people who criticized him for it who were tagged as the bigoted zealots.
Oh, and I seem to recall a bunch of left-wing bloggers and journalists insisting that Marty Peretz is a racist for saying things like this.