Via Verum Serum
Judge Sotomayor’s personal views may cloud her jurisprudence. As Judge Sotomayor explained in a 2002 speech at Berkeley, she believes it is appropriate for a judge to consider their “experiences as women and people of color” in their decision making, which she believes should “affect our decisions.”
"I'm perfect for the Supreme Court! Look how Latina I am!"
Here is the full-text of Sotomayor's 2001 Berkeley Speech as printed in the La Raza Law Journal by way of the New York Times. I'm still reading it, so I'll update this post as I find points of interest in the speech.
As of September 1, 2001, the federal judiciary consisting of Supreme, Circuit and District Court Judges was about 22% women. In 1992, nearly ten years ago, when I was first appointed a District Court Judge, the percentage of women in the total federal judiciary was only 13%. Now, the growth of Latino representation is somewhat less favorable. As of today we have, as I noted earlier, no Supreme Court justices, and we have only 10 out of 147 active Circuit Court judges and 30 out of 587 active district court judges. Those numbers are grossly below our proportion of the population. As recently as 1965, however, the federal bench had only three women serving and only one Latino judge. So changes are happening, although in some areas, very slowly. These figures and appointments are heartwarming. Nevertheless, much still remains to happen.
Identity politics at its finest, folks.
we are waiting for a third appointment of a woman to both the Supreme Court and the New York Court of Appeals and of a second minority, male or female, preferably Hispanic, to the Supreme Court.
That same point can be made with respect to people of color. No one person, judge or nominee will speak in a female or people of color voice. I need not remind you that Justice Clarence Thomas represents a part but not the whole of African-American thought on many subjects. Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, "to judge is an exercise of power" and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow of Harvard Law School, states "there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives - no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging," 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. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging.
So Sotomayor admits that her life experiences, gender and race will affect her method of judging cases.
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.
Congratulations! Obama has chosen someone who may be the most racist Supreme Court nominee in decades.
Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.Whenever I read racist crap like what Sotomayor promotes in this speech, I think, if you turned this around, does it sound sickening. If so, it should sicken us as equally regardless of who says it.
For example, if the text of this speech had the sentence, "a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a hispanic female who hasn't lived that life," we would rightly be appalled.
We should be equally appalled when the actual text reads, "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."