May 26th, 2009
11:58 AM ET
13 years ago

Sotomayor: Gender, ethnicity should influence judges


WASHINGTON (CNN) - Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said in a 2001 speech that a judge's gender and ethnicity does, and should, influence his or her decision-making on the bench.

Sotomayor made the comments on October 26, 2001, at a University of California-Berkeley symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the first Latino named to the federal district court.

"I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society," she said at the event, sponsored by the law school. "I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that - it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others."

"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," she added. "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."

A university media affairs representative confirmed the comments to CNN.

President Obama announced Tuesday his intention to nominate Sotomayor to the high court. She would become the first Hispanic and third female justice in Supreme Court history.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Kevin in Ohio

    I love it when liberals resort to name-calling. It shows their true colors. I point out that Sotomayor's previous comments are racist and sexist, and I am called a cluless, unrealistic bed-wetter. Shheez.... If a white man had said anything similar, wouldn't YOU be saying the same thing??????????

    May 26, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. M in AZ

    Luke Brown,

    Thank you and I concur!

    Also, congratulations Ms. Sotomayor...I know you have worked and studied hard. Stand strong!

    May 26, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |

    this is quite scary, if judge making decisions upon someones life, they should be righteous first off. heck , don't give her the job because she's a woman. who needs a judge ruling upon what they feel! if a judge isn't fair and righteous, who needs them!

    May 26, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. WhoCares?

    Oh..The White Male Party (RNC) has an issue!!!

    May 26, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. pam Eugene OR

    She said this in 2001. Are we going to paw through every statement she has ever made. No person is the sum total of one remark.
    Get real!
    I think she sounds like an excellent choice.

    May 26, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Simmy

    To Michael Steele,

    Good luck with your 'wait and see' attitude.....We'll get back to you in about five years, and ask your thoughts on another of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor's rulings.......

    May 26, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |

    Anybody that is against this lady being sworn in and anybody against Barack Obama is a RACIST

    May 26, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Peter E

    Justices should be appointed based on experience and competence, not race, gender, or ethnicity. The last person to be appointed based on race was Clarence Thomas, to fill the vacancy of Thurgood Marshall. Thomas turned out to be the laziest, most partiasn, most incompetent Justice of the last century. We want competence first, race last!

    May 26, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Tim

    And in the meantime, the Pentagon has acknowledged that 14% of released Gitmo detainees, those very detainees who were deemed the least risky to release amongst all detainees held at Gitmo, returned to the battlefield after their release.

    But don't worry, Obama has a plan.

    May 26, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. John

    I hope that in her comment about ‘reaching a better conclusion than a white male’ she really meant ‘ reaching a better conclusion than a less lived white male.'

    And I think her statement about gender and race affecting one's decisions needs some more work. It sounds too much like she's resigned herself to the fact that these factors are inevitable. A wise and introspective person should be able to tamp these personal agendas down to a minimum.

    May 26, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Stan Pitak

    It may be hard for decent fair minded Americans to digest, but the left and the universities teach hatred of the white male. Her comments are understood and accepted by current group-think. She will sail through confirmation.
    We are no longer an intelligent and discerning country from the left or the right.

    May 26, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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