NYT Praises Sotomayor 'Focus on Diversity and Struggle,' Downplays 'Wise Latina' Comments

The New York Times has responded to revelations that Sonia Sotomayor’s quote about “a wise Latina woman” was repeated often between 1994 and 2003 by publishing an article titled “Speeches show judge’s steady focus on diversity and struggle.” The article, written by Peter Baker and Jo Becker, does mention in passing the fact that she has used the quote on multiple occasions, but it did so in the manner of emphasizing her “focus on diversity and struggle.”

She has lamented the dearth of Hispanics on the federal bench. She has exhorted young people to value immigration. She has mulled over the “deeply confused image” America has of its own racial identity. And she has used on more than one occasion a version of the “wise Latina” line that she has spent much of this week trying to explain.

Five paragraphs from the end, the article mentions her wise Latina comment again and offers the White House’s response.

That was the same year she made the comment about how a “wise Latina” could make a better decision than a white man. The White House has called that a poor choice of words, but it was not the only time she used them. In 1994, she said something similar, although she referred to women generally, not just Latinas. And in 2003, she said a “wise Latina woman” would “reach a better conclusion” but did not say better than whom. The White House argued that the fact that she had used a similar formulation in 1994 without its being questioned during the 1998 confirmation process showed that it was now being manufactured as a false issue. And to rebut the notion that she would let her background blur her jurisprudence, the administration pointed to a 2000 speech in which she said, “I have to unhook myself from my emotional responses and try to stay within my unemotional, objective persona.”

The article doesn’t quote any of her critics except Rush Limbaugh.

Her speeches also indicate that she is not afraid to take on opponents. In 1998, after she was confirmed to the appeals court, she recounted how she was vigorously questioned by senators based on what she called “mischaracterization and misunderstanding of three of my decisions” by Rush Limbaugh. In recent days, Mr. Limbaugh has led the fight against her nomination, calling her a “reverse racist.”

An earlier New York Times article about Sotomayor’s comments also doesn’t quote any critics of Sotomayor but does quote Charles Ogletree Jr., an advisor to Obama.

Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor and an adviser to Mr. Obama, said Judge Sotomayor’s remarks were appropriate. Professor Ogletree said it was “obvious that people’s life experiences will inform their judgments in life as lawyers and judges” because law is more than “a technical exercise,” citing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s famous aphorism: “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”