WASHINGTON (CNN) – Given the chance to explain her "wise Latina" remark, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said Tuesday her word choice was bad.
"I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging," Sotomayor said on the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination by President Barack Obama to be the first Hispanic justice on the the nation's highest court.
Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, gave Sotomayor the opportunity to comment on criticism over her past statements that she hoped "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."
"No words I have ever spoken for written have received so much attention," Sotomayor said of the statement from past speeches to law students, particularly Hispanic students.
"I was trying to inspire them to believe that their life experiences would enrich the legal system, because different life experiences and backgrounds always do," she said. "I don't think that there is a quarrel with that in our society."
Under later questioning from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, Sotomayor conceded her wording was poor in trying to express a similar opinion as former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - the first woman on the nation's highest court - that "both men and women were equally capable of being wise and fair judges."
Sotomayor said she knew that O'Connor wasn't commenting on the ability of men or women to make wiser decisions. Judges disagree all the time, she said, but that doesn't mean that one is necessarily wiser than another.
"I was trying to play on her words," she said. "My play fell flat. It was bad."