Sotomayor addresses “wise Latina” comment, abortion

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(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, is on the hotseat before a Senate committee during today’s confirmation hearings

She was pressed to explain controversial comments on race and ethnic background and whether she’d be fair, or biased, on the bench.

“I’m very concerned what you’re saying today is quite inconsistent,” charged Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions.

He asked Judge Sotomayor why she told students that appeals courts make law.

“It’s very clear that I was talking about the policy ramifications of precedent,” Judge Sotomayor told Sessions.

And why she said a wise latina might reach a better decision than a white man.

“I was trying to play on her words. My play fell flat. It was bad,” she acknowledged today.

“The impartiality is that the law is what commands the result,” she added.

“You do think your background will affect the result in cases and that is not impartiality,” claimed Sen. Sessions.

Opponents claim Sotomayor was biased in a one-paragraph ruling against white firefighters who were denied promotions.

The Supreme Court reversed her decision last month.

Sotomayor says at the time she was bound by rulings that the court has now changed:

“The Supreme Court, in looking at that case announced it was applying a new standard,” Judge Sotomayor told the panel today.

Sotomayor, hammered again and again on her “wise latina” comment, tried to make it clear.

“I want to state up front and unequivocally: without a doubt, no ethnic, racial, or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment.”

“Had you been saying that with clarity over the last 15 years, we’d have a lot fewer problems today,” answered Senator Sessions.

And amid anti-abortion protests outside the capitol today, Sotomayor told lawmakers that Roe v. Wade is “settled law”, but that every case is different:

“I don’t pre-judge issues,” said Sotomayor. “I come to every case with an open mind. Every case is new – new for me.”