Sotomayor Addresses Wise Latina Comment Newhaven Firefighters Case

07.14.09 | FL News Team

(Washington, DC) -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor immediately started tackling the main arguments against her nomination to the Supreme Court during her confirmation hearing today. When asked about her comment in 2001 that a Latina judge may arrive at a better decision than a white male judge, she said she absolutely believed good judges could come from any racial, ethnic or gender group. She added she believed every person has an equal opportunity to be good and wise regardless of their background and experience in life.  

Sotomayor said the so-called "wise Latina" comment was part of a larger speech that was meant to inspire lawyers and students to believe their life experiences would enrich the legal system. She stated, "the context of the words that I spoke have created a misunderstanding."

Sotomayor also commented on the Supreme Court's recent overturning of a ruling in which she was involved. That ruling dealt with the New Haven firefighters case, in which white and Latino firefighters had filed suit against the city because it threw out promotion exams that did not yield enough qualified black candidates.

Sotomayor was on the appeals court panel that ruled in favor of the city. In her hearing on Capitol Hill, she said the appellate panel followed precedent in the case, and that the Supreme Court decision applied a new legal standard on how to consider such cases in the future.