In a 2001 speech at the UC Berkeley School of Law, Sotomayor wondered whether impartiality is achievable and confessed that she hoped "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."
The issue is not that Sotomayor self-identifies as a "wise Latina woman," but what she meant when she said, "I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society." Is she simply being honest about personal biases? Or does she believe that women and minorities -- the speech included a gratuitous dig at Justice Clarence Thomas -- should rule according to their demographic?
As for precedent: On Tuesday, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 -- which limited marriage to a man and a woman. Chief Justice Ronald George wrote that that the court's "role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values."
Justice Carlos Moreno, the lone dissenter, however, cited the court's "traditional constitutional function of protecting persecuted minorities from the majority will."
Someone on the Senate Judiciary Committee ought to ask Sotomayor: Who's right? I want to hear that answer.