Honest senator pt. 2

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 15, 2009

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy used to be a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee until he got kicked out for failing to be able to keep a secret. If there was any justice in the world, he’d get kicked off the Senate Judiciary Committee for failing to tell the truth. As Byron York notes, yesterday Leahy eviscerated Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s infamous “wise Latina” comment to the point of insensibility.

In his opening questioning of Sonia Sotomayor, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy substantially misquoted Sotomayor's famous "wise Latina" speech.  "You said that, quote, you 'would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions…'" Leahy said to Sotomayor.  "So tell us, you've heard all of these charges and countercharges, the 'wise Latina' and on and on…tell us what's going on."

Leahy's version of Sotomayor's quote was not what Sotomayor actually said.  What she said, in her 2001 Berkeley speech 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."  [Emphasis added.]

After the hearings were over Tuesday, I asked Leahy about the misquote. "I was doing it from memory," Leahy explained.  "But I knew that she would -- she stated exactly what she said, and the statement is in the record."  Leahy added that he did not consider Sotomayor's precise words very important; her response, he said, was much more critical.

That's Leahy's explanation.  But video of his question is available on YouTube, and it certainly appears that Leahy was reading from a text when he misquoted Sotomayor.  Perhaps Leahy was forming his question while looking at some other text, but there is no doubt he was looking at papers when he posed the question to Sotomayor.

York helpfully provides the video of this moment too. Judge for yourself.

Outside the beltway we have a word for people like Sen. Leahy: Liar.


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July 2009



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