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Friday, June 5, 2009

Sotomayor's "Wise Latina" Stump Speech

According to CQ Politics , Judge Sotomayor made the "Wise Latina" line at least four times in speeches from 1998-2003.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested "a wise Latina woman" or "wise woman" judge might "reach a better conclusion" than a male judge.

Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, (to see Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee click here and here) suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a "wise Latina" judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.

Obviously, had this been reversed and a similar line had been made multiple times by a white man, not only their nomination would be over but they would be a pariah.

Furthermore, this doesn't merely undercut the defense of Sotomayor by the White House and others that this was a poor choice of words, but it blows it up. It puts to rest the Democrat's insistence that this line was taken out of context. There are now four speeches, four sets of context, and yet the same line is in all four. It remains to be seen just how damaging this latest revelation will be. Time will tell.

Even the in the tank media is bound to ask about this revelation of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. It will be interesting to see how Gibbs responds, and even more interesting to see how the media spins the response.

This frankly should raise serious questions about the nomination itself and also Obama's vetting process, but so far the response has been rather mild. Often, these sorts of revelations take days and even weeks to blow up. These revelations could wind up still exploding as more media picks them up.

More than that, this really crystallizes serious concerns about Sotomayor and her belief in identity politics, racial politics and how those views will affect her decision making on the bench. No more can the Democrats brush these concerns off as fear mongering and demonizing. Clearly, Sotomayor believes that she, a wise Latina, is in a better position to make decisions from the bench than a white man. This can no longer be dismissed by merely saying they were a poor choice of words or an apology. She must explain what this means. Stuart Taylor does a good job of explaining not only the fear but just how out of the mainstream Sotomayor is.

Sotomayor voted with two other judges last year to uphold the city's denial of promotions to white firefighters who had studied hard for months and done well on a scrupulously fair test of job-related skills. But because no African-Americans did well enough to qualify, the city decided that nobody would be promoted, claiming that it feared a "disparate impact" lawsuit by low-scoring blacks. (See May 30 column.)

The Quinnipiac poll showed that respondents, by well over 3-to-1, want the Supreme Court to overturn the Appellate panel's decision. And although the poll shows that this has not yet hurt Sotomayor's popularity much, the case will become more salient later this month. The justices are widely expected to reverse the panel's decision.

None of this is to suggest that the nominee's racially preferential actions put her outside the liberal Democratic mainstream. Quite the contrary. Most liberals are addicted to racial preferences and identity politics.

But this puts liberal Democrats very far out of sync with the overwhelming majority of Americans, including us centrists. President Obama made noises during the campaign that seemed to suggest he understood this. But the Sotomayor nomination -- for all her inspiring accomplishments, powerful intellect, and devotion to the underprivileged -- looks like a strong Obama endorsement of the racial preferences and identity politics that she has supported

Sotomayor must explain her view on racial quotas, affirmative action, and reverse discrimination. She must also explain fully what she means by the "wise Latina" line. The Republicans have a duty to press her on all of these issues during her hearings, and she has a duty to fully explain all these issues. Because Sotomayor's views are way out of the mainstream on all these issues, the Republicans also have an opportunity to score big political points as well.

Now that we all know that Sotomayor made the "wise Latina" line on multiple occasions, it's time that she is pressed on what it means and how it guides her judicial philosophy. I firmly believe that if pressed enough she will show herself to be a judge with a world view and philosophy that is way out of the mainstream. It is the job of the Republicans to do just that.


Anonymous said...

I don't find her words inappropriate or offensive at all.

I think some in the GOP are just grasping at straws trying to make something out of nothing. You guys should take Gibbs' advice and tread carefully les you alienate even more women and Hispanics than you already have.

mike volpe said...

You think that someone that on multiple occasions says that they are wiser because they are Latina and a woman isn't offensive or inappropriate? What is inappropriate then?

If this isn't disturbing to you, then what is disturbing? Are you saying that you are comfortable with someone on the SC that believes that their race and gender makes them better than someone of a different race and gender?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am comfortable with that. I don't see any racism or ill intent that some other conservative commentators are seeing in the comments.

GOP should NOT pick race and gender as the hill to die on if they want a future in public service. Yes this pleases the rabid base, but it is a boring, shrill distraction for the vast majority of Americans who are tired of hearing race described in binary terms.

You can have a discussion about it without calling those who disagree racist.

mike volpe said...

Very few people actually called her a racist, and most have taken that back. You are trying to create straw men and argue against them.

Obviously, I can't tell you what you should find offensive. I can tell you that your view that this isn't an offensive statement is in the very small minority of Americans. Most Americans are offended by the statement and they should be. If the statement were flipped, we wouldn't be having any discussions about her since she then would, fairly, be branded a racist.

Anonymous said...

There is no right to not be offended.

You can be offended without calling her a racist, that's all.

Anyway, the last person who should have a right to call her racist is the man who has made numerous questionable statements on race that actually did offend me. I understand he is not the leader of the GOP but he sure is taking up the reins of the anti-Sotomayor movement.

mike volpe said...

Why are you so fixated with Rush? He isn't even a politician. Why are you so fixated with the term racist? It was only used by him and Newt and then taken back by Newt?

Why are you unable to talk about anything but that? Why are you painting all Reps with the words of Rush?

Could it be because without that argument you have none?

Anonymous said...

I don't really have an argument, I just am not offended by her statements in any way.

Being progressive and strongly pro-Hispanic probably has a lot to do with that, admittedly.