The richness of my experience indicates a weak case.

Before the announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nominee to be Supreme Court Justice, I was going to write about my annoyance of the overuse of the Constitution in argument.  That may come later in the upcoming weeks and months as this process continues, but first I wanted to dissect the sentence that have been repeated dozens of times in the past few days.

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.

Of course the focus on this sentence ignore the entire rest of the lecture entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice” (whole transcript here), but first ignoring that fallacy, the line notes that she hopes the experiences she has lived as a Latina woman would help her reach a better (fuller, more comprehensive) decision than someone who has lived a privileged life (implied).

Radical, yeah? Or not.

Problem is she goes on to say:

I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable.


However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. 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.

Something critics haven’t accounted for is her acknowledge that there are different biases as a judge that she represents as a Latina woman that she is required to work through.

There is much more to the lecture, but the specific point and position that critics have taken as evidence of her racist heart is completely out of context and even out of the tiny snippit they decided to rail on.

The use of “hope” in that one sentence implies a hinderence she understands being a Latina woman can bring. Just as Michelle Obama’s words were taken out of context in the campaign. If this is the worst the conservatives have to offer, nomination seems to be a breeze. Until then, it’s a wait and see game.


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