CBS Ignores Sotomayor’s Multiple ‘Wise Latina’ Comments

Wyatt Andrews, CBS Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor responding to questions about her "wise Latina" comments during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, CBS’s Wyatt Andrews glossed over the multiple times she made the remark: "What did she mean in her 2001 speech to Hispanic law students at the University of California that "a wise Latina woman...would reach a better conclusion than a white male?"

In addition to the Evening News story, Andrews similarly reported on Wednesday’s Early Show: "She said it in a speech to a mostly Hispanic audience at the University of California in 2001." In reality, Sotomayor made some version of that controversial statement at least four other times during speeches in 1994, 1999, 2002, and 2004.

In the Early Show story, Andrews went on to depict the comment as an isolated incident: "At the hearing, she first explained she was trying to inspire the students, that she was misunderstood. But pressed hard by Senator John Kyl, she admitted to some overheated rhetoric...But she also argued the comment did not reflect some deep-seeded bias."

Andrews also referred to Sotomayor’s "mainstream judicial record": "Republicans like Lindsey Graham argued that Sotomayor’s mainstream judicial record doesn't mesh with her speeches on ethnic pride that he called troubling." He concluded the report by declaring: "Under intense questioning, sometimes here yesterday, Sotomayor emphasized that in her 17 years of actually being a federal judge, she has never once ruled based on sympathy or bias."

Hear is a full transcript of the Evening News report:

6:31PM:

WYATT ANDREWS: It's the most controversial thing she said and she faced it right away. What did she mean in her 2001 speech to Hispanic law students at the University of California that [graphic onscreen] "a wise Latina woman...would reach a better conclusion than a white male?"

SOTOMAYOR: I was trying to inspire them to believe that their life experiences would enrich the legal system.

ANDREWS: As for reaching a better conclusion than a white male, essentially the judge took that back.

SOTOMAYOR: The words I chose, taking the, the, the rhetorical flourish, was a bad idea. I do not believe that any ethnic, gender, or race group has an advantage in sound judging.

ANDREWS: Sotomayor did not back down, however, from her belief that a person's background impacts judging.

SOTOMAYOR: Life experiences have to influence you. We're not robots.

ANDREWS: That led to a tense series of challenges from ranking Republican Jeff Sessions.

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS: Do you think there's any circumstance in which a judge should allow their prejudices to impact their decision making?

SOTOMAYOR: Never their prejudices. I do not permit my sympathies, personal views or prejudices to influence the outcome of my cases.

ANDREWS: On other crucial subjects, Sotomayor revealed she does think that Roe v. Wade – protecting a woman's right to choose an abortion – is the law of the land.

SOTOMAYOR: That is the precedent of the Court.

ANDREWS: On her ruling against the white firefighters in New Haven, the judge argued she had no choice.

SOTOMAYOR: The city's decision in that particular situation was lawful under established law.

ANDREWS: And on the issue of gun rights, she told the nation's gun owners she gets the Second Amendment.

SOTOMAYOR: I understand that – how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans.

ANDREWS: The judge even showed some independence from the President who once famously said that five percent of judging comes from the heart. Sotomayor, whose mantra this week has been her strict adherence to the law, disagreed saying the heart should not be driving law.

Here is a full transcript of the Early Show report:

7:08AM:

RUSS MITCHELL: Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings resume this morning. The Supreme Court nominee is likely to face a second day of tough questions. CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews is on Capitol Hill with the latest. Wyatt, good morning.

WYATT ANDREWS: Good morning, Russ. In this hearing room yesterday, Sotomayor was repeatedly pressed to defend her famous ‘wise Latina woman’ comment and whether her feelings about her ethnicity would somehow impact her judgment. She said it in a speech to a mostly Hispanic audience at the University of California in 2001. ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.’

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: I was trying to-

ANDREWS: At the hearing, she first explained she was trying to inspire the students, that she was misunderstood. But pressed hard by Senator John Kyl, she admitted to some overheated rhetoric.

SOTOMAYOR: The words I chose, taking the – the rhetorical flourish, was a bad idea.

ANDREWS: But she also argued the comment did not reflect some deep-seeded bias.

SOTOMAYOR: Unequivocally and without doubt, I do not believe that any ethnic, racial, or gender group has an advantage in sound judging.

ANDREWS: Still, Republicans like Lindsey Graham argued that Sotomayor’s mainstream judicial record doesn't mesh with her speeches on ethnic pride that he called troubling.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: That's what we're trying to figure out. Who are we getting here? You know, who are we getting as a nation?

ANDREWS: [no audio] ...someone who only applies the law. Under intense questioning, sometimes here yesterday, Sotomayor emphasized that in her 17 years of actually being a federal judge, she has never once ruled based on sympathy or bias. Russ.

MITCHELL: Wyatt Andrews on Capitol Hill. Thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC