June 16th, 2009
05:17 PM ET
14 years ago

Sotomayor defends membership in all-women's club

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.sotomayorruss0616.gi.jpg caption="Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, pictured here with Sen. Russ Feingold, is defending her membership in an all-women's club."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An all-women's club that counts Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor among its members does not "invidiously discriminate on the basis of sex," she told senators.

The remarks came in a letter - along with a supplemental filing of documents and speeches - Sotomayor gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

The confirmation hearings begin July 13.

Sotomayor has been reviewing her record with the help of White House lawyers. She was also meeting with six senators Tuesday, courtesy visits with the lawmakers who will decide whether she will become the nation's 111th justice.

The New York federal appeals judge has provided thousands of pages of material to the committee, but some Republican senators had asked for more information, including her participation in the Belizean Grove.

The New York-based professional women's organization describes itself as helping "women pursue more significant dreams, ambitions, purposes, transcendence, and spiritual fulfillment."

About 115 women are in the group, according to its Web site.

"The Belizean Grove is a constellation of influential women who are key decision makers in the profit, nonprofit and social sectors," a statement on its Web site said. "Who build long term mutually beneficial relationships in order to both take charge of their own destinies and help others to do the same."

Its leaders said it was created as a counterpart to the all-male social club the Bohemian Grove, which also has an influential network of leaders.

Sotomayor told senators her group is not purposely exclusive.

"To the best of my knowledge, a man has never asked to be considered for membership. It is also my understanding that all interested individuals are duly considered by the membership committee," she wrote in her letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She added that men participate in the group's activities, including trips, hosting events and talks.

Sotomayor said that in her opinion, her membership did not violate the Code of Judicial Conduct, which says judges should not join organizations that discriminate based on sex, religion, race or nationality.

Sources indicated Sotomayor was recommended to the Belizean Grove by Mari Carmen Aponte, a corporate director and former top official at the Puerto Rico
Federal Affairs Administration in Washington.

The only female member of the high court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, belongs to the International Women's Forum, which has an exclusive membership. Former justice Sandra Day O'Connor also participated in similar women's only groups, an issue that was raised during her 1981 confirmation hearings.

Among the Belizean Grove's members are Marion Blakely, former chairwoman of the Federal Aviation Administration; and Edie Weiner, leading futurist consultant and best-selling author.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Lance Medowbrook

    Do as I say and not as I do. Another case of a liberal double standard, first the comment on being superior to whites and now the private club. But Soto says men can participate though. That argument won't work for a white male but we hold her to a lower standard, soft bigotry of low expectations.

    June 16, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Proud Member..Party of No

    Nothing new here...just more dumbocrat hypocrisy.

    June 16, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. southerncousin

    She is a liberal democrat. She is allowed to do this. If she were a republican she would have to withdraw her nomination and be the butt of endless liberal jibes. This is life in the Obamanation that has been created. The working people are being lied to and stolen from by the non workers.

    June 16, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The only female member of the high court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, belongs to the International Women's Forum, which has an exclusive membership. Former justice Sandra Day O'Connor also participated in similar women's only groups, an issue that was raised during her 1981 confirmation hearings.
    Republican Senators are trying to have a "gotcha" moment and it backfired. It probably eats them up on the inside when she added that men participate in the group's activities, including trips, hosting events and talks.

    June 16, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Melissa

    What in the world is wrong with her belonging to an all woman's club? Most women do because they find it much less intimidating to at an all woman's club than to be at a co-ed club. Most women don't stand their and goggle at other women, but men most certainly goggle at women when they're working out.

    There's nothing wrong with it. Its not sexist.

    Oh and just to cap it all off, I'm a female Liberal.

    June 16, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. RH

    Just another group of wealthy elitists who've come together to keep the ordinary citizen under their collective thumb.

    This group is clearly discriminatory.

    June 16, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. Joanna

    OMG people get a life! You people totally miss the point. Why can't a women belong to a womens group. Why can't she be a proud wise Latina? Here is the difference... ethic pride is fine, we see Italian pride, Irish pride, black pride, ( why Black pride, cause not all "black" people are from Africa and not all know exactly where they came from, FACT) what is the big deal.
    On there other hand Barack the magic Negro and the horrible email sent out by the Tennessee lady is racist. You people need to get a clue. Stop the insanity, stop the hate mongering( yeah fox news and rush, i am talking to you!) stop the terror attacks right wing nuts!
    To sum up, pride in ones self is good, demoralizing and bashing ethnic persons white black, Latino or again, oh and Muslim is very bad!

    June 16, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. TCM

    where else but a woman's club to pick up women? I mean, she's divorced right...aww...let's stereotype...she's got that Rican-butch look, right? I'm a hater! I'm a hater!

    June 16, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Noneya

    Hey conservatives – don't let facts get in the way of your hate. We wouldn't want you to accidentally become liberal because you actually thought before speaking...

    June 16, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. Bubba, Sunnyvale, CA

    Boy, is there a demographic republicans haven't decided to alienate themselves from?

    June 16, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Lindsey

    What's next... revoke her membership to Curves?

    June 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Chiguy

    Before you knee-jerk spew all over the nominee, you need to read the WHOLE article, including the part that says "Former justice Sandra Day O'Connor also participated in similar women's only groups"

    For those of you who aren't familiar with Justice O'Connor, she was appointed by Ronald Reagan, and she was overheard the night of the contested 2000 election saying that she didn't want her successor to be appointed by a democrat. So why is it OK when a Republican nominee is a member of a women's group, but a Democratic nominee is piiloried as a liar, a dumbocrat and guilty of a double standard. Before you start typing, you should probably know what you're talking about.

    June 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. A Proud Arrogant American

    And if a Republican man belonged to an all male club, the Democrats would be screaming bloody murder.


    June 16, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Lori tells GOP unlike them, we Dems can criticize our own President like Bill Maher. We STILL vote Democrat though!

    Watch the Republicans numbers go down from 21% to 10% if they fight this one. They have deficits with women voters, young voters, Hispanics, African-American & Asian voters. They've already angered Hispanic voters by attacking Sotomayor, they will further isolate women voters if they fight this. Now the claim is Sotomayor is a 'sexists'?? You've got to be kidding me. No wonder why the Dems have a 19point favorable advantage over the GOP. We look at the alternative and we'd rather stay with the lesser of two evils (the Democrats). I am disgusted at the Republicans for trying to make this an issue. Absolutely disgusted. However, there will be backlash if they dare try to make this an issue. So let them complain.

    June 16, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. America First

    This woman is just like obama........she is a liar and she's as mean as a snake.
    She has no right in the Supreme Court because she's hiding who she really is.Look at this womans face and you can see it........unless your eyes are closed.

    June 16, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. Karen - Missouri

    This isn't news, it's just more whining Republicans trying to make something out of nothing instead of doing any REAL work. Is this why it takes them so long to hold hearings? They don't have time to read, but they've time to nit-pick. God, I hope more Republicans lose seats in the 2010 elections!

    June 16, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  17. Steve J, Michigan

    Is this a joke? So what if she is. Skull n Bones, Freemasons etc... Must be another slow news day...I'm sure there will be loads of disgusted Conserv comments about this just more right-wing hypocrisy..


    June 16, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. ConsiderThis, FL

    It's funny that the only people having a problem with anything and everything that's going on in America are white males. Is it because for the first time in America's history, they feel threatened by all non-white male members of our population. Oh, yeah, that's the basis for descrimination – not comfortable competing on a level playing field. Never have, never will, never want to.

    June 16, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. Robert - Atlanta

    To "A Proud Arrogant American" ..... maybe you should rescind that statement. Just another idiotic extreme right wing Republican who is still trying to find dirt to throw on anything new for our country. Get over it moron. It is no longer 1960.

    June 16, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. G

    How is this a double standard? Republicans will still belong to their all male clubs and nothing has ever been said so I don't see a double standard. But whatever some republicans believe we liberals think Obama is some sort of god sorry but I reserve my worshipping for Sunday Mass. So just get over it Obama won if people actually believe what you said than Mccain would have won but he didn't did he? So much for loyalty to your country more like loyatly to a political party sad!

    June 16, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. Texas Teacher

    This is a non issue! Come on... the Republicans are going to nit pick this to death like everything else they get their hands on... Note: Palin's tirade against a late night talk show commedian... so... why don't we just ignore them and go ahead and put this woman where she belongs!

    I am really becoming frustrated at this attitude of bipartisanship! It appears to me that it is just a ploy to keep from doing much of anything! We had promises during the campaigns. We voted for the man that offered us the promises that we want to see in place! NOW we would like to see those promises kept.... FORGET THE GOP! That is all they deserve! What goes around comes around... if you start a circle it will come back to you! They started a circle this past 8 years... now it is their turn to sit back and take it... just as we did! Let's get serious and get something done..... MR. PRESIDENT! I love you, but you are giving in way too much for my taste. I am inclined to agree with Bill Maher.... let's get it done!

    June 16, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  22. Randy

    Notice that Joanna didn't say white pride. Why not, because you can't without being called a bigot.

    June 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Tony

    Hey PROUD ARROGANT AMERICAN GOOF, she said it was not gender exclusive, your free to join. No DOUBLE STANDARD.

    June 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Why are the Republicans finding everything possible to pick on Ms. Sotomayor about? If she were a man and belonged to an all mens club, nothing would be said! They need to realize that the Dems and the Obama admin. DO NOT NEED THE REPUBLICANS VOTES FOR HER TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE SUPREME COURT! Their opinions don't mean anything!

    June 16, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |