Her Word Choice Was Not That Poor

What Women Really Think
May 29 2009 5:34 PM

Her Word Choice Was Not That Poor

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today that the president would say that Sotomayor's word choice in her suddenly- infamous Berkeley speech was "poor." It's maddening that the White House is now taking this line. Maybe they mean to take the air out of it, but I bet it will accomplish the opposite, and give everyone license to talk about it again all weekend. This was a published speech, after all, not an off-the-cuff remark, and presumably the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal allows authors to edit copy, like everyone else.

It wasn't the best choice of words, but I would downgrade that to "poor" only because it is likely to be taken out of context when, eight years later, she is nominated for the Supreme Court. As we have hashed out here and here , Sotomayor was talking about sex discrimination cases, in which there is actual evidence that having a woman on a panel of judges actually does make a difference. Her speech was actually much more nuanced than the right made it out to be, which Gibbs got to in the second half of his speech:

Advertisement

She was simply making the point that experiences are relevant to the process of judging. Your personal experiences have a tendency to make you more aware of certain facts and certain cases, that your experiences impact your understanding.

But I'm betting all we're going to hear from that speech is that word "poor."

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.