The real problem with Sotomayor's 'wise latina' remarks

William Tate
Setting aside the potentially racist aspects, there is a potentially more troubling factor in Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotamayor's oft-repeated 'wise latina' comments.

Her contention is that a wise latina would be able to make better decisions than a white male. A wise latina. It can be argued that just uttering such a comment, one that could be considered blatantly racist, disqualifies her from inclusion in its description. That she said it more than once, and did so publicly, should prove that her wisdom falls a few pages short of a full brief.

Having matriculated at Princeton and Yale Law, there can be little doubt that Sotomayor possesses a certain level of intelligence. However, there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom.

Witness Ricci vs. DeStefano, called a one of Sotomayor's "key appellate court rulings," and the case at the heart of the second major controversy related to Barack Obama's nomination of the so-called 'wise latina.' According to most observers, the Supreme Court will likely soon overturn a decision by Sotomayor rejecting an appeal by white New Haven, Connecticut firefighters who argued that they were denied promotions because of racial discrimination.

Other Sotomayor decisions have also defied wisdom, conventional or otherwise:

-A 2007 Sotomayor ruling against a power plant, with an overly strict interpretation of the Clean Water Act, was overturned by the Supreme Court.

-Sotomayor, in a 2000 dissenting opinion, wrote that U.S. courts should consider decisions made in foreign courts in deciding American cases.

-Sotomayor helped end the Major League Baseball strike in 1995 when she sided with players (labor) against owners (management.)

-Sotomayor ruled this year that the Second Amendment did not protect ownership of certain martial arts weapons. Understandably, the plaintiff is seeking to appeal.

Wisdom should be a key attribute of any judge -- more important on the nation's highest court than anywhere else -- yet, Sotomayor's record indicates that all too often she relies, not on wisdom, but on liberal beliefs to anchor her decisions.

Even if one ignores the racist aspects of Sotomayor's 'wise latina' comments and presupposes them to be true, the question must be asked: Would those comments apply to her?

Count at least one observer who is skeptical of the nomination of this 'wise latina', not because of the second word in her description, but because of the first.
Setting aside the potentially racist aspects, there is a potentially more troubling factor in Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotamayor's oft-repeated 'wise latina' comments.

Her contention is that a wise latina would be able to make better decisions than a white male. A wise latina. It can be argued that just uttering such a comment, one that could be considered blatantly racist, disqualifies her from inclusion in its description. That she said it more than once, and did so publicly, should prove that her wisdom falls a few pages short of a full brief.

Having matriculated at Princeton and Yale Law, there can be little doubt that Sotomayor possesses a certain level of intelligence. However, there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom.

Witness Ricci vs. DeStefano, called a one of Sotomayor's "key appellate court rulings," and the case at the heart of the second major controversy related to Barack Obama's nomination of the so-called 'wise latina.' According to most observers, the Supreme Court will likely soon overturn a decision by Sotomayor rejecting an appeal by white New Haven, Connecticut firefighters who argued that they were denied promotions because of racial discrimination.

Other Sotomayor decisions have also defied wisdom, conventional or otherwise:

-A 2007 Sotomayor ruling against a power plant, with an overly strict interpretation of the Clean Water Act, was overturned by the Supreme Court.

-Sotomayor, in a 2000 dissenting opinion, wrote that U.S. courts should consider decisions made in foreign courts in deciding American cases.

-Sotomayor helped end the Major League Baseball strike in 1995 when she sided with players (labor) against owners (management.)

-Sotomayor ruled this year that the Second Amendment did not protect ownership of certain martial arts weapons. Understandably, the plaintiff is seeking to appeal.

Wisdom should be a key attribute of any judge -- more important on the nation's highest court than anywhere else -- yet, Sotomayor's record indicates that all too often she relies, not on wisdom, but on liberal beliefs to anchor her decisions.

Even if one ignores the racist aspects of Sotomayor's 'wise latina' comments and presupposes them to be true, the question must be asked: Would those comments apply to her?

Count at least one observer who is skeptical of the nomination of this 'wise latina', not because of the second word in her description, but because of the first.