Puzzled by the “Wise Latina” Comment? It’s Easy to Understand From Perspective of Latina Empowerment Movement


Most American’s were probably startled by Sotomayor’s comments on the “wise Latina” and confused about what she really means with this phrase.  In my view, her vision of a “wise Latina” makes the most sense when viewed from the perspective of the Latina “empowerment” movement which teaches that Latinas have a special gift because of their roots in both Native American and Catholic Hispanic culture.  For example, see Ana Nogales’ book Latina Power! Using 7 Strengths You Already Have to Create the Success You Deserve In this philosophy, Latinas enjoy a special power because of their willingness to combine Native American practices (like herbs, magic and faith healing) with traditional Catholic virtues like loyalty to the priest and the traditional family.  Although this movement was meant to counter negative messages about Latin American culture, it can – at times – border on a promotion of the superiority of Latinas compared to other people because of their supposed ability to combine normally contradictory belief systems.  I think this accounts for the most outrageous elements in Judge Sotomayor’s comments, which read:

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.

Ultimately, however, Judge Sotomayor is speaking from a belief system which light years away from the traditional U.S. cultural emphasis – based on Protestant religious beliefs – in deriving authority from the written word and primarily the Bible.  Protestant culture is a good fit with traditional Constitutional values which call on the judge to decide fairly on the basis of the law as it is written.  This is the view held by 70% of the American public according to a recent study by Rasmussen Polls.  Her commitment to the Latina empowerment movement would also be a good explaination for her startling admission that judges make policy.  Since she sees herself drawing on a combination of Native American beliefs and Catholic religion, she does not believe that it is wise or safe to rely on the wording of the U.S. Constitution.  This, of course, is what makes her an activist judge.  The dangers of her self-serving ideology is that her “Latina intuition” allowed her to allow a poor firefighter like Frank Ricci be abused by the “reverse racists” who run the city of NewHaven, CT. Her decision in that case was so cruel, in part, because she didn’t even find it necessary to explain her reasoning to Mr. Ricci.

I think her faith in “Latina wisdom” also explains her reputation for being a bully who misuses her power in the court room.  I was startled to see that this “bullying” behavior is so bad that President Obama called to check on it behind the scenes and it kept Sotomayor from immediately winning his support.  If she buys into the perspective that her “Latina wisdom” gives her special powers of understanding superior to others, it is not surprising that she has adopted and implemented the posture of a traditional bully. 

At any rate, I urge policy-makers to read up on the Latina empowerment literature so that they will have a full and deep understanding of what Judge Sotomayor is both sharing with us and seeking (unsuccessfully) to cover up.  I thnk they will see she has a self-righteous judicial philosophy which is alien to U.S. culture and which leads to extremely negative results.  As a person who was harmed by affirmative action myself, I consider it dangerous to have someone with her philosophy on the Supreme Court.  In her view, justice is too limiting of a concept to restrain her massive ego and her apparent lack of compassion for the powerless and struggling of all races. 

Augustine 25 is the pseudonym of an award-winning political scientist.

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One Response

  1. Augustine; This is a wonderfully in depth piece that I would wish you would email to every member of the house and senate! Would that they would pay heed! She is a dangerous woman, and a dangerous precedent would be set by her election.
    Thanks for the article!
    ~Sherri

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