June 3rd, 2009
09:52 PM ET
11 years ago

Sotomayor supporters focus on '94 speech

Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor Wednesday circulated a speech she made in 1994 that include similar remarks to her 2001 'wise Latina' comments.

Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor Wednesday circulated a speech she made in 1994 that include similar remarks to her 2001 'wise Latina' comments.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor Wednesday circulated a speech she made in 1994 that include similar remarks to her 2001 "wise Latina" comments, which have drawn fire from conservatives as racially insensitive.

In highlighting the earlier speech, Democrats are making the point that her GOP critics never complained before about the sentiment that judges with different backgrounds can reach different conclusions from the bench.

While her earlier speech did not include the racial and ethnic references that appeared in her 2001 speech, it did include references to gender and the idea that a female judge would reach a "better" conclusion than a male because of her life experience.

The March 17, 1994, speech to the Conference on Law Reviews was submitted to the Senate in 1997 when Sotomayor was nominated – and ultimately confirmed with Republican support - to be on the U.S. Court of Appeals. In it, she discussed the role of gender and referenced a quote attributed to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that "a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion."

"I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion," she said in the 1994 speech. "What is better? I….hope that better will mean a more compassionate, and caring conclusion."

In the 2001 speech, she said, "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 senior GOP aide responded Wednesday that the Democratic effort on the 1994 speech contradicts the White House claim now that Sotomayor simply had a "poor choice of words" in the 2001 speech.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Quite the lame explanation if you ask me. Sandra Day O'Connor's remarks showed a sense of equality in the decisions a wise man and a wise woman would make. Sotomayor's comments in both '94 and '01 have a woman centric view, while the '01 comments also included a bit of racism with it. I get it, white men bad, latina good.

    June 3, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Why is it that no one is talking about Sotomayor's belief that the 2nd amendment does not allow for individuals to own guns and she made this decision after the US Supreme Court rendered its ruling that stated exactly the opposite.

    June 3, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  3. The Broker.

    CNN! Communications Nautical Nasher's...Chomp!

    June 3, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  4. The Broker.

    You don't sell it! You Auction everything. Whole Auto's are also parts.

    Service Doctor. Problem Solver.

    June 3, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. Tatianna


    June 3, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  6. martin in nj

    With friends like these, who needs enemies? I'm still researching the patterns of her rulings, so I'm not sure if I support her or not and which way I'll urge my senators to vote. Taking the "latina woman" issue and supporting the argument that brands her a racist with similar earlier statements just doesn't seem too smart to me. Bringing it up just to ask why the Senate didn't bring up the issue during the hearings on her confirmation to the Appellate Court is just shooting yourself in the foot.

    I'm more concerned that she seems to vote against workers' rights more often than not. We can't rebuild the middle class if corporations are allowed to run roughshod over their rank-and-file employees regarding wages, benefits and protections for "whistle-blowers" who make a legitimate case against their employers.

    June 3, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Tatianna

    Hello Dana Bash and Ted Barrett. Will I be asking to much for one and/or both of you to kindly post a blog regarding dem senators derailed Estrata to the court because of his Hispanic race. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me. I would not want to assume CNN as bias and in the tank for Obama. I enjoy a good debate on a level field. Fair to say?

    June 3, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Reader of the Constitution

    "What is better? I….hope that better will mean a more compassionate, and caring conclusion."

    Silly me, I thought judges were supposed follow the law & reach a LEGAL decision: compassionate & caring or not!!!

    The Supreme Court is NOT a place to what you FEEL is best, but what is LEGALLY allowed or disallowed.

    June 3, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. Donnie

    You mean Latinas are not better than Whitey's? I'm confused now.

    June 3, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  10. Jefe

    I truly hope that is true, because I'm hoping to see a case in the SCOTUS against the practice of charging higher car insurance rates for males. I feel as though there is a lack of Compassion, Caring, and Constitutionality in this.

    June 3, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  11. John B

    I have to agree with the the statement that the "poor choice of words" defense is now somewhat suspect. If she thinks it is so poor, then she seems to have an affinity for poor words. Given the striking similarity between the two statements and the large amount of time between the two, I imagine she said it a few more times between the two instances mentioned. This tells me that it was not a poor choice of words, but is what she really believes. I cannot support someone that thinks simply because of their gender or ethinicity they are better than someone else in rendering judgement from the bench. I would most certainly vote no.

    June 3, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  12. Mike in SA

    She just gets better and better every day.

    June 3, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  13. Desert Storm VETERAN - Welcome to the end of the era of dumb ass Republicans and Stoopid Retards like Cheney, Limbaugh and Newt in power

    It's just so fantastic that Bush and Cheney are OUT OF THE PICTURE (well at least Bush is) for good! For eight long, tragic years America had to endure George Bush's God-awful face and stubborn unyielding arrogance and hatrd for the middle-class. Sotomayor is going to be another breath of fresh air and a fine Supreme Court Justice and just what America needs as we face the challenges dumped on us by the Dubya gang.

    June 3, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  14. Foreclosure

    Okay, here's a question for anyone who's well versed in the law, why isn't anyone in the mortgage business going to prison for their misdeeds and what they have done to this country. I'm talking Countrywide (known criminals), World Savings, Sallie and Freddie Mac. Do politicians really care about us? Why none of the fraudsters are headed off to prison? Anyone with any guesses at all please respond to this

    June 3, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  15. Joe

    Thanks for supporting the fact that she has alway been a racist man hater.

    June 4, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  16. RR

    compassionate and caring ruling?

    How about a Constitutional ruling? Rule by the law, not by the heart!

    June 4, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  17. gayle, ca


    June 4, 2009 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  18. rich mason

    This Limbaugh character is the most hateful, stupidest nincompoop I have ever encountered. If there is anything good, he's against it. What a jerk. I do believe this "man" has some kind of a mental problem. Compared to President Obama, he doesn't even measure up to our President's shoe soles. Now what really scares me is, Limbaugh has an audience. My goodness. Heaven help us. Also, such a joke, when these characters make their statements and then apologize later. What phonies. Judge Sotomayor has more intelligence in her little finger than Limbaugh could ever dream of.

    June 4, 2009 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  19. Sean

    Wow... if I were to say the reverse, I would at the very least, lose my job. What a racisist.

    June 4, 2009 01:42 am at 1:42 am |