Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor today defended race-based affirmative action in college admissions, saying there is evidence that the alternative — allocating advantage based on location or income – does not work.
“It’s not that I don’t believe it works, I don’t think the statistics show it works,” Sotomayor said during an exclusive wide-ranging interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “It just doesn’t. If you start from the proposition that advantage inures to a background that’s privileged. And it does. Look, we have legacy admissions, if your parents or your grandparents have been to that school — they’re going to give you an advantage in getting into the school again. Legacy admission is a wonderful thing, because it means even if you’re not as qualified as others you’re going to get that slight advantage.
“But what does ‘qualifications’ mean in an academic setting? A place like Princeton … could fill their entire beginning freshman class with students who have scored perfectly on undergraduate metrics,” she said. “They don’t do it because it would not make for a diverse class on the metrics that they think are important for success in life.”
When the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of affirmative action in college admissions in April, Sotomayor read her dissent from the bench — something she previously said wasn’t a good practice.
Sotomayor — who rose from a Bronx housing project to attend elite Princeton University — said she changed her mind after former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse showed her an article calling for more justices to read their dissents aloud.
“The argument was that it signals to the public … in a way that nothing else does, that the question is different than what the majority has thought… And I realize that in this fast-paced Internet world, reporters are no longer reading about cases before they comment on them,” Sotomayor said.
Sotomayor recalled being subjected to sexist remarks while serving as a federal judge, before President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court in 2009.
“It hasn’t happened in a while where someone called me ‘honey.’ But you know people did when I was on the federal bench,” she told ABC News.
“And I’m sure that the marshal who called me ‘honey’ thought it was a term of endearment. But I’m equally sure that he would not find a term of endearment or use it for a male judge,” she said, when asked about the issue by Stephanopoulos.
Sotomayor wrote about the sexism she faced earlier in her career as a prosecutor in her memoir, “My Beloved World.”
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