The New Sotomayor: Wise But Not Better Than Anyone Else

What Women Really Think
July 14 2009 4:24 PM

The New Sotomayor: Wise But Not Better Than Anyone Else

I prefer Sotomayor’s effort to put her wise Latina point in context to the talking points the Obama administration previously came up with. To be sure, she's not clearing up the internal contradiction between the unobjectionable idea that "life experiences matter" and her hope that being a wise Latina would lead "more often than not" to "better conclusions." And in his exchange with Sotomayor this afternoon, Sen. Kyl gave her speech a fair and more complex reading than she’s allowing for. But Sotomayor did explain this morning that she gave that speech "most often to groups of women lawyers or most particularly young Latino lawyers and students. As my speech made clear ... I was trying to inspire them to believe that their life experiences would enrich the legal system." In response to Kyl, she added that she often told her listeners at the end of the speech, "I hope someday you’re sitting on the bench with me."

In an insightful piece for Slate , Monica Youn pointed out that black and Hispanic and Asian heavyweights often get tangled up in identity politics because as "minority role models," they "are regularly asked to put on the public record-at lunches, award ceremonies, community events-lengthy statements of their views on America's most explosive topic: race." White men aren’t asked to explain how being white and male affects them as judges or leaders, so there’s no rope to hang them with. What do you think: Is this take-two from Sotomayor convincing or no?

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

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
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  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
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  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.