Wash. Times changes word in Sotomayor statement to call for her defeat

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

The Washington Times falsely claimed in an editorial that Judge Sonia Sotomayor said that " 'inherent physiological and cultural differences' help ensure that a 'wise Latina ... would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.' " In fact, Sotomayor made no such claim.

In its July 13 editorial calling for Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination to be defeated, The Washington Times falsely claimed that Sotomayor said that " 'inherent physiological and cultural differences' help ensure that a 'wise Latina ... would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.' " In fact, Sotomayor did not refer to "inherent physiological and cultural differences" [emphasis added], as the Times stated. Rather, in nearly identical speeches she delivered from 1994 to 2003, Sotomayor repeated variations of the following statement: "Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague [federal district] Judge [Miriam] Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging" [emphasis added].

The Times editorial page has distorted these comments in the past. As Media Matters for America noted, the Times falsely claimed in a June 8 editorial that Sotomayor "assert[ed]" in three speeches "that there are 'inherent physiological' differences between the races" and suggested her comments should disqualify her from serving on the court. Additionally, the Times printed an op-ed on July 11 by Jeffrey Kuhner that also misquoted the comment, arguing that Sotomayor "embraces the pernicious doctrine of 'inherent physiological and cultural differences' among groups."

From Sotomayor's 2001 speech at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law:

In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice 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 not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. 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 experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

From Sotomayor's 2003 speech at the Seton Hall University School of Law:

In private discussions with me on the topic of differences based on gender in judging, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that the seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant except I choose to emphasize that the people who argued the cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Robert Carter and Judge Constance Baker Motley from my court and the first black women appointed to the federal bench and others who were involved in the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the court that equality of work required equality in the terms and conditions of employment. Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences -- a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum -- our gender and national origins make and will make a difference in our judging.

Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that "a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion" in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Professor Martha Minnow is correct, there can never be a universal definition of "wise." Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.

From Sotomayor's 2002 speech at Princeton University:

In private discussions with me on the topic of differences based on gender in judging, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that the seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant except I choose to emphasize that the people who argued the cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape were largely people of color and women.

I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Constance Baker Motley from my court and the first black women appointed to the federal bench and others of the then-NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the court that equality of work required equality in the terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins make and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that "a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion" in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement.

From Sotomayor's March 1994 speech at the 40th National Conference of Law Reviews:

In private discussions with me on the topic of differences based on gender in judging, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that the seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant except I choose to emphasize that the people who argued the cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurmond Marshall, Judge Constance Baker Motley from my court and the first black women appointed to the federal bench and others of the then NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the court that equality of work required equality in the terms and conditions of employment. Whether born from experience or inherent physiological differemces, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender makes and will make a difference in our judging.

From the Washington Times' July 13 editorial:

From numerous speeches, public appearances and writings, all read in context, we know that Judge Sotomayor believes that:

[...]

c Most infamously, "inherent physiological and cultural differences" help ensure that a "wise Latina ... would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male."

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