July 15, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS FACT CHECK: Don’t quote Sotomayor on that, Senator.

In endorsing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy did some creative rewriting of history. And he put quote marks around it.

Trying to head off criticism of a controversial comment, Leahy misquoted Sotomayor’s own words in kicking off the second day of her confirmation hearings. . . .

LEAHY SAID: “You said that, quote, you ‘would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions.'”

THE FACTS: If that’s all Sotomayor said, the quote would barely have mattered to opponents of her nomination. The actual quote, delivered in a 2001 speech to law students at the University of California at Berkeley, 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 life.”

Leahy’s revision dropped the controversial part of the phrase, the part that has attracted charges of reverse racism.

Sotomayor said her words have been misunderstood. She said she intended to tell students that their experiences would enrich the legal system. But she softened her language Tuesday, say that no ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in judging.

I wouldn’t regard Leahy as a reliable source on these things.

Plus, Leahy explains his “wise Latina” misquote, but the video shows…

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