Future Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor is getting alot of criticism for this comment she made at the Cultural Diversity Lecture at the UC Berkeley School of Law:
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
For example, Stuart Taylor writes, “unless Sotomayor believes that Latina women also make better judges than Latino men, and also better than African-American men and women, her basic proposition seems to be that white males (with some exceptions, she noted) are inferior to all other groups in the qualities that make for a good jurist.”
An obvious explanation and one that seems to fit well with Sotomayor’s overall speech at Berkeley, yet one that I have not seen presented in other blogs, is that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences” is in a better position to understand the difficulties faced by a minority in a way that a white man cannot. One of the primary roles (reiterated by, if memory serves me correctly, John Roberts during his confirmation process) of the Supreme court is to defend the rights of the minority (used in general terms here) from being trampled by the majority. All Sotomayor is saying, it seems to me, is that being a particular minority should help one appreciate that responsibility better than say, not being a minority.
Seen in this light her statement sounds innocuous and certainly not racist, as some have implied.