Sotomayor to Senator: ’01 Comments Meant to Be Inspirational

Jun 4, 2009 8:51pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: Maine Republican Susan Collins met this afternoon with Sotomayor and, while Collins did not seem to be familiar with the ’94 speech and its gender-based assertion woman with “the richness of her experiences” could reach a better conclusion than a man,” she did say she asked Sotomayor about the ’01 Berkeley speech – the ethnicity-based “wise Latina woman” iteration.

Collins said she found the speech troubling, but said Sotomayor told her she “meant is as inspirational” to the students at the conference sponsored by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.

Collins said Sotomayor assured her that while she used the phrase before, “she said she would not be using it again, which does not surprise me,” said Collins. “She’s clearly a very bright individual who learns from her past mistakes,” Collins said.

Later, Collins added: “I’m still uncomfortable that she made the statement, particularly as a sitting judge. I can understand her explanation that it was intended to be a statement to inspire the young people to whom she was talking and that it did not reflect how she approaches the cases before her.”

Otherwise, Collins said she was a bit frustrated that Sotomayor would not discuss the controversial New Haven firefighters case. But Sotomayor did point to a particular case, Pappas v. Giuliani as one that she told Collins exemplified her judicial philosophy.

In her dissent in the case, Sotomayor argued that the New York City Police Department infringed on an employee’s first amendment rights when it fired him for sending racist slurs in the mail. Liberals are seizing on that opinion, exemplified by this Salon piece.

Also – who is Sotomayor’s favorite Supreme Court Justice? Collins said its Benjamin Cardozo.

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