Sonia Sotomayor Delivers "A Latina Judge's Voice" Speech

Sotomayor was a member of the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts.

In October 2001, she presented the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley School of Law; titled "A Latina Judge's Voice", it was published in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal the following spring. In the speech, she discussed the characteristics of her Latina upbringing and culture and discussed the history of minorities and women ascending to the federal bench. She said the low number of minority women on the federal bench at that time was "shocking". She then discussed at length how her own experiences as a Latina might affect her decisions as a judge. In any case, her past background in activism has not necessarily influenced her rulings: a study of 50 racial discrimination cases brought before her panel showed that 45 of them were rejected, with Sotomayor never filing a dissent. An expanded study showed that Sotomayor has decided 97 cases involving a claim of discrimination and has rejected those claims nearly 90 percent of the time. Another examination of Second Circuit split decisions on cases that dealt with race and discrimination showed no clear ideological pattern in Sotomayor's opinions.

Who am I? I am a "Newyorkrican." For those of you on the West Coast who do not know what that term means: I am a born and bred New Yorker of Puerto Rican-born parents who came to the states during World War II.”

— Sonia Sotomayor describes her heritage