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.