According to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the sex and ethnicity of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”
In a 2001 speech at Berkeley College when she was a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, she touted the importance of race and the influence it has on making judgments. La Raza Law Journal published the speech here.
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“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said. “Our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”
More diversity in judges “will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging,” Sotomayor explained. Her speech hammered the point home, saying, “there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives” and that “personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.”
A judge’s race is often a major factor and is acknowledged as such by the media, especially in Supreme Court appointments. Justice Clarence Thomas’s race was a major factor in his appointment and Sotomayor herself spoke of its importance.
Between 1994 and 2001, Sotomayor frequently spoke on her background, saying different variations of this line: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been the focus of a political firestorm after saying U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in the Trump University case because of his Mexican heritage, calling him “a hater of Donald Trump.” Former students of Trump University are suing Trump, alleging the real estate school was a ripoff. Trump has denied their allegations. Curiel is a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.
In an interview, CNN’s Jake Tapper repeatedly questioned Trump about invoking the judge’s race, saying “is that not the definition of racism?”
“But I don’t care if you criticize him,” Tapper told Trump in the interview. “That’s fine. You can criticize every decision. What I’m saying is if you invoke his race as a reason why he can’t do his job.”
Check out seven examples of Democrats clearly invoking race when speaking about judges.
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