Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor, Feminist

Another thing in Sonia Sotomayor's favor is the number of her rulings that have been overturned by the current rabidly right-wing Supreme Court. And she quotes Martha Minnow, I used to read Minnow back when I was studying feminist legal theory.

There's this:

• At a 2001 U.C. Berkeley symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the first Latino named to the federal district court, Sotomayor said that the gender and ethnicity of judges does and should affect their judicial decision-making. From her speech:

"I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society....

"I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that - it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others....

"Our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor [Martha] Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." [U.C. Berkeley School of Law, 10/26/2001]