Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee for Justice of the United States Supreme Court, is now infamous for suggesting: “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.”
But just how wise is this Bronx-born judge? Most of us have not heard Sotomayor’s voice much beyond her first appearance at the White House after President Barack Obama nominated her, and her testimony before the Senate judiciary committee. An argument can be made that none of these televised appearances accurately reveal how she conducts herself on the bench, in the real word of legal conflicts.
Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal has posted an audio transcription of Judge Sotomayor in action, during the December 10th, 2007, oral arguments in the Ricci v. DeStefano case. Click here to listen to the recording. Listen to the arguments after the 33rd minute of recording and Sotomayor’s response.
The Ricci case, you will recall, involved seventeen white and two Hispanic firefighters in New Haven, CT, who scored high enough on a test to win promotion, only to have the city throw out the results after finding that no black firefighters hit the threshold. The white firefighters sued, alleging reverse discrimination, and lost in federal district court. The case then landed in Judge Sotomayor’s courtroom at the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. In an en banc ruling, Sotomayor voted to sustain the district court dismissal. This ruling was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, on June 29, 2009.
So how wise is judge Sonia Sotomayor? You be the judge.