Today we got our first chance to hear Sonia Sotomayor respond to charges of racism and bias, as she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her second consecutive day of hearings.
In addressing the "wise Latina" quote, Sotomayor said she made it in the spirit of the equal capacity of men and women to wisely decide cases.
"You've been referred to as being a bigot, and to the credit of Republican senators and the Democratic senators, they have not repeated those charges, but you have not been able to respond to any of those things," said committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the first senator to question Sotomayor and a staunch backer of her nomination.
"So tell us, you've heard all these charges and counter charges, the 'wise Latina,'" Leahy said. "Here's your chance. Tell us what's going on here, judge.
Sotomayor's response: her words have been taken out of context. She said she made the comment in the same spirit Sandra Day O'Connor
"No words I have ever spoken or written have received so much attention. I gave a variant of my speech to a variety of different groups, most often to groups of women lawyers or to groups most particularly of young Latino lawyers and students," Sotomayor said, asserting she had sought to inspire her audiences "to believe they could become anything they wanted to become."