What Sonia Sotomayor Actually Said in 2001 Lecture

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor delivered a speech to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice”. It was published in the Spring 2002 issue of Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, and has been reproduced by The New York Times this month online.

A quote taken from that speech has raised controversy, as conservatives alleged Sotomayor declared her willingness to use race as a means of judging the law. In fact, she argued against that sort of bias. The controversial quote, part of a discussion on the question of whether every wise old judge shares the same specific type of wisdom, is as follows:

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.

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