Sotomayor Video: Judges Make Policy, Latinas Better Than Whites

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 09:35 AM

By Kenneth D. Williams

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Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's pick to become the newest Supreme Court justice, is on the record with some controversial remarks about 'diversity,' 'judicial activism' and female judges vs. male judges.

For example, the New York Times reported that in 2001, at the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture, Sotomayor had this to say:

“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.”

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said later, regarding non-white, female judges, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Also, there is a 2005 video of Sotomayor, speaking with potential law clerks, saying that a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” She added: “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it ...”

Regarding Sotomayor's chances to avoid a filibuster of her nomination, Senator Orrin Hatch told Politico, “I'll tell you one thing, I'm not very happy about judges who will substitute their own policy preferences for what the law really is; who think that they can run the country from the bench when they actually have a limited role. And that role is to interpret the laws made by those who have to stand for reelection."

Despite Hatch's misgivings, Democratic Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York sent a personal letter to President Barack Obama asking him to appoint a Latino to fill the next vacancy on the United States Supreme Court Back in April.

“It’s long overdue that a Latino sit on the United States Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor and Ken Salazar are two candidates who would make outstanding justices. They have top-notch legal minds, years of experience, moderate approaches to the law, and would make history by being the first Latino on the court,” Senator Schumer said.

"We are fortunate in New York State to have jurists of the caliber and intellect that Judge Sotomayor has exhibited during a lifelong career of service to the bench. As an accomplished jurists, as a woman, and as a Latina she would bring to the United States Supreme Court a much needed voice. We must be committed to diversity on our nation’s highest bench. These candidates will restore the balance that we so desperately need on the Court,” Senator Gillibrand said.

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