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JUNE 4, 2009

Do We Want Empathetic Justice or Blind Justice?

Regarding your editorial "The 'Empathy' Nominee" (May 27): Judge Sonia Sotomayor's speech at a La Raza function in Berkeley, Calif. in 2001 has become famous for the candid statement of her belief that "a wise Latina woman" is likely to be a better judge than a white male. But there is much more that is questionable in the speech. She led up to her conclusion by arguing that America is "deeply confused" yet we "insist that we can and must function and live in a race and color-blind way." It is fine that she has, as she says, a "wonderful and magical . . . Latina soul," but that is not the basis for an assumption of superiority. Incredibly, she criticizes another judge who "sees danger in presuming that judging should be gender or anything else biased." She apparently sees no danger in at least some kinds of bias.

She also noted, ". . . no Hispanics, male or female, sit on the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, District of Columbia or Federal Circuits. Sort of shocking, isn't it? This is the year 2002. We have a long way to go." Is it also shocking that there are no Italians, Swedes, Greeks or Poles on several of those courts, or is it only a problem in regard to Hispanics? What racial and ethnic composition of the courts would be unobjectionable in her opinion?

The statue symbolizing justice is always a woman who is blindfolded to make clear that such individual characteristics as race and ethnicity are irrelevant. Judge Sotomayer's conception of justice seems to be different.

Prof. Lino A. Graglia
University of Texas
School of Law
Austin, Texas