Is the ‘Wise Latina’ a Myth? Program Probes Impact of Diversity on Judicial Decisionmaking
A 32-word excerpt from a speech by Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings set off a firestorm of controversy, criticism and commentary. But it also has created a “teachable moment” for judges and lawyers that will be explored Saturday at the ABA Midyear Meeting program, “Diversity on the Bench: Is the ‘Wise Latina’ a Myth?”
Sotomayor’s 32-word statement excerpted from one of her many past speeches was “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 live.”
Research highlighted in the program will show that “judges are people too,” said Judge Delissa A. Ridgway, chair of the ABA National Conference of Federal Trial Judges.
“Judges cannot check their identities at the courthouse door; and gender and race make up a huge part of anyone’s identity. Judges are no different,” she said. “The research that we’ll present in ‘Wise Latina’ documents the major role played by judges’ race and gender, at least in certain types of cases. These studies show beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when it comes to judges, justice is neither ‘color blind’ nor ‘gender neutral.’”
Panelists for the program are: professor Pat K. Chew of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, author of “Myth of the Color-Blind Judge: An Empirical Analysis of Racial Harassment Cases;” Judge Carol E. Jackson, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri; Judge Philip R. Martinez, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas; and Jennifer Peresie, author of “Female Judges Matter: Gender and Collegial Decisionmaking in the Federal Appellate Courts.”
Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor for Slate and contributing editor for Newsweek, will moderate the program.