July 14th, 2009
10:41 AM ET

What the 'wise Latina' remark meant

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/14/sotomayor.hearing/art.sotomayor.tues.cnn.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committe on Tuesday, the second day of her hearings."]
Laura E. Gómez
Special to CNN

It is likely that Judge Sotomayor will face some questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week about her 2001 "wise Latina" remark.

In a speech at a Berkeley conference on Hispanic judges, Sotomayor said, "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."

Her comment has been lampooned on the cover of the National Review, where cartoonists apparently could not quite fathom a wise Latina judge, choosing to portray Sotomayor as a Buddha with Asian features. It has caused Rush Limbaugh and others to label her a "racist," and it has caused even liberals to bristle.

I was a speaker at the conference Sotomayor's speech kicked off, and I would like to put her comment in context.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Jan Reyes

    Listening to Judge Sotomayor at her Senate confirmation hearing today, what came up for me was if she was trying to inspire young people that they could be anything they wanted to be...why didn't she just say that and give other illustrations, instead of the one she chose. Yes, I think she made a poor choice of words. Not the end of the world, but when you're in the public eye, unfortunately you always have to weigh what you say.

    July 14, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Joanne Pacicca

    I would hope that a wise, experienced, unbiased person would describe the next Supreme Court Justice.

    July 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  3. Arachnae

    Anyone who has known and overcome hardship has a degree of understanding unavailable to someone who has led a privileged life. To act like this is a radical statement is to continue to value privilege for privilege's sake.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  4. meenas17

    Sotomayor is too bold to quip that a wise latina woman stands a better chance than a white male. What is the colour going to do?It is the innate diligence and shrewdness that counts.

    July 14, 2009 at 11:57 am |