Patrick Leahy, Sotomayor Misquote: Leahy Misrepresents Sotomayor

Senator Patrick Leahy gave Sonia Sotomayor an opportunity to explain one of her now infamous remarks, and in doing so Leahy chose to misrepresent Sotomayor’s own words – leaving out that stuff about her capability in a court of law to reach “a better conclusion than the white male.”

Patrick Leahy

The exact Sonia Sotomayor quote, in a 2001 speech, and then in another 7 instances is:

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.

But if you were watching the LeahySotomayor exchange, as was I and the Washington Examiner was, you noticed that Leahy specifically left out the racial and ethnic point of her comment. As the Washington Examiner said, “one way to lessen the impact of Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment is to misquote it.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.: “You said that, quote, you would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions. … So tell us, you’ve heard all of these charges and countercharges, the wise Latina and on and on. Here’s your chance. You tell us — you tell us what’s going on here, Judge.”

Senator Jeff Session (R-AL) set the record straight when it was his turn at the microphone:

I would suggest that the quotation he [Leahy] gave was not exactly right of the wise Latina comment.” Sessions then read the correct quote. It was only then that Sotomayor said her remark “fell flat” and “left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case, but that’s clearly not what I do as a judge.

Of course, it is exactly what she meant. It was what she intended and it was exactly the impression that she hoped to leave with the audience on those occasions when she spoke the words.

Sotomayor explained [paraphrased – but a very close paraphrase] that when she was speaking to women lawyers or young Latino lawyers or students, she intended to inspire them, to show that their life experiences could enrich the legal system, and that they should believe that they could become anything they wanted to become. So the question is, what does a white man’s conclusions have to do with inspiring other women? The answer is that she intended to inspire them through encouragement that a Latino woman’s conclusions are better than a white man’s conclusions.

It is not difficult if you cut through the misrepresentations of Leahy’s and Sotomayor’s part, and then apply a slight bit of common sense.

Jim Kouri at has some interesting comments about Leahy, his warnings to the GOP and his legacy as “Leaky Leahy,” when it comes to “top secret communications,” (in other words – government secrets). It is worth reading, and being reminded who so many of these powerful Democrats are somewhere inside their shallow souls.

Are you contacting your Senators?

Whether Republican or Democrat, whether you think you know how they will vote on Sotomayor or not, give them a call today, another tomorrow, send an email, send a fax, give them another call.