The President and his spokesman both admitted that Sotomayor spoke poorly when she said “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” However, both said that her statement was taken out of context. The problem with that contention is Sotomayor’s statement was not an isolated one. It’s from her peroration in an entire speech dedicated to the impact of race and gender on judging. This was basically the thesis of the entire speech.
The bottom line is, this is exactly what the president said he wanted, a justice whose life experience gave her “empathy.” The problem is she expressed it in too direct a fashion, making it clear how ugly the idea is.
The right tack for Republicans to take is not to try to block Sotomayor’s appointment. They can’t do it anyway. Also, who’s to say that the next nomination would be better? Rather, as Glenn Reynolds suggested on PJM Political, the Republicans should use this as a teaching moment. They should open a debate on whether justice should be guided by race and gender, or whether perhaps impartial justice might be better. That’s a debate that Republicans can win, and start to correct the misapprehension that many Americans have of this administration.