After Sen. Jeff Sessions said he was “very troubled” by Judge Sonia Sotomayor's 2001 speech at Berkeley, Gretchen Carlson did not ask him why he didn't ask Sotomayor about it when he met with her the day before.
During a June 3 interview on Fox News' Fox & Friends, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said that he was “very troubled” by a speech Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor gave in 2001 in which she said that “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.” However, co-host Gretchen Carlson did not ask Sessions why, if he was so troubled by the speech, he didn't ask Sotomayor about it during their June 2 meeting.
Sessions stated during a press conference that day that he did not “directly” ask Sotomayor about the “wise Latina” comment made in the speech. From the Federal News Service transcript of Sessions' June 2 press conference [accessed via the Nexis database]:
Q Senator, did you directly ask her about the comments that she made in 2001 suggesting that the experience of a Latina woman makes somebody like that is better-equipped than a white male?
SEN. SESSIONS: No, not directly. We talked about the idea and the concept of personal feelings to some degree, you know, how that influences a decision, how it should not. And I won't go into the -- I think our conversation was one that we should -- was in, you know, a confidential conversation. But, yeah.
Q Can you just tell us if whether or not her answer to that question reassures you about her approach?
SEN. SESSIONS: Well, we talked about it briefly, and let's just not go into that in a lot of detail.
Q Senator -- Senator --
SEN. SESSIONS: I did tell her that, you know, I do think that we may well talk again, and so we might get into more specific details. But I, frankly, haven't had the opportunity to study her record enough to fairly ask a lot of specific questions.
During the interview, Carlson said to Sessions: “Some of the comments that have come out about the judge so far, you wouldn't need more time to analyze. So how do you feel about that particular comment, back in 2001, where she characterized herself as being -- maybe being more wise as a Latina woman than a white male?” In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, Sotomayor made her comment in the context of discussing race and sex discrimination cases. During the 2001 speech at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, Sotomayor also stated that, like any judge, she had to work to overcome her own personal assumptions and biases to render a fair decision.
From the June 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: Let me ask you this, Senator. Some of the comments that have come out about the judge so far, you wouldn't need more time to analyze. So how do you feel about that particular comment, back in 2001, where she characterized herself as being -- maybe being more wise as a Latina woman than a white male?
SESSIONS: Well, that whole speech that was actually printed -- she wrote it out and it was printed. It was carefully thought out, and it had some interesting concepts in it. But I was very troubled by it, I have to say, because it went more than just that.
It basically suggested that a judge should not aspire to be objective since that's impossible to do. It's inevitable that your personal views would infect your decision making. And, to me, that's directly -- that's a direct contrary to our great history --
SESSIONS: -- of blind justice in America.
CARLSON: But, Senator, a deal breaker for you? Yes or no?
SESSIONS: What's that?
CARLSON: A deal breaker for you? Yes or no?
SESSIONS: I can't quite hear what you said there, but I --
CARLSON: Oh, I said a deal breaker. Would it be a deal breaker for you?
SESSIONS: Oh, yes. Well, I think it's something that I'm troubled by and we want to look at. She has a good background for the job. She's been a lawyer and a prosecutor and a trial judge and an appellate judge. She has other qualities, but that thing has to be dealt with, because if we don't have a judge committed to the law, regardless of whether they like it or not, that's not a good judge.