Editor's Note: As Judge Sotomayor’s second day of Senate confirmation hearings prepared to commence, many of Tuesday’s American Morning viewers were carefully scrutinizing the first day’s proceedings. Most remarked that empathy must absolutely be considered when interpreting the law.
Is empathy and background important when interpreting the law of the United States? Should these factors be removed from such a process? What issues do you consider important regarding interpretation of the law?
Editor's note: Laura Gómez is professor of law and American studies at the University of New Mexico. Gómez, who has a Ph.D. in sociology and a law degree from Stanford University, is the author of "Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/art.laura.gomez.courtesy.jpg caption="Laura Gómez says Sonia Sotomayor's 'wise Latina' comment has been taken out of context."]
By Laura E. Gómez
Special to CNN
(CNN) - It is likely that Judge Sotomayor will face some questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week about her 2001 "wise Latina" remark.
In a speech at a Berkeley conference on Hispanic judges, Sotomayor said, "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."
Her comment has been lampooned on the cover of the National Review, where cartoonists apparently could not quite fathom a wise Latina judge, choosing to portray Sotomayor as a Buddha with Asian features. It has caused Rush Limbaugh and others to label her a "racist," and it has caused even liberals to bristle.
I was a speaker at the conference Sotomayor's speech kicked off, and I would like to put her comment in context.
"...Wise Latina woman..." – Republicans have seized on those words from Judge Sonia Sotomayor to question whether she would use race to play favorites on the high court. But Sotomayor is hardly the first Supreme Court hopeful who was once outspoken on the subject of race. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/art.plane.damage.wsaz.jpg caption="Southwest Flight 2294 made an emergency landing at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, on Monday."]
A Southwest Airlines jet made an emergency landing in Charleston, West Virginia, on Monday after a football-sized hole in its fuselage caused the cabin to depressurize, an airline spokeswoman said.
There were no injuries aboard the Boeing 737, which was traveling at about 34,000 feet when the problem occurred, Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis told CNN.
Ben Berman is a pilot and former chief investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. He spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.
Kiran Chetry: Most of us can't imagine what it would be like up there, 34,000 feet and then realize there's a hole in the cabin. What did you think when you heard about this?
Ben Berman: Well, my first thought was – here we go again. And I was thinking back to an incident that occurred back in 1988 when an Aloha Airlines jet lost the whole top of the fuselage. That was a very massive failure. One person was killed. Everybody was left sitting out in the open. That was worse than a skylight. In any case I thought of that and I also thought of the recent events where a couple years ago Southwest Airlines was fined for not doing inspections like the aging aircraft inspections of the fuselage for cracks that are mandated right now as a result of the Aloha Airlines event.
Chetry: And what did they figure out about the Aloha Airlines plane that may help out in this situation?
Berman: Well, they figured out you need a whole focus on airplanes as they get older, because airplanes are being flown in airline service much longer than originally anticipated. And that focus on aging aircraft has developed throughout the worldwide airline industry and resulted in a lot of good inspections and good maintenance procedures to keep these flying safely. And I thought, well, this is going to have to be another look at it and we’ll see what caused this football-sized hole in the fuselage to develop and may require some different inspections or new inspections – also to see whether the airline was doing the inspections they should have been doing.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/brown.tina.art.jpg caption="Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of TheDailyBeast.com calls Hillary Clinton 'Obama's other wife.'"]
When President Obama picked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, many called it a bold move that had star power written all over it. There are some who are now questioning if that star power is being kept under wraps.
Tina Brown is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of TheDailyBeast.com. She writes, “It's time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.” Brown joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.
Kiran Chetry: "Take off her burqa"? What do you mean by that?
Tina Brown: I mean I'd like to see a little more of Hillary being allowed to be her own person in the State Department. Clearly she's obviously having to represent the administration and she's doing it. She's showing, though, immense discipline, I have to say, about knocking herself back from the spotlight.
She didn't even appear on a talk show until June because the president's message team control very, very carefully who gets the limelight. And it's all really about Obama getting the limelight. So Hillary didn’t. Tomorrow she has her first big foreign policy address, which is actually welcome. Because I think it's time we saw more of her.
Chetry: You call it the ultimate checkmate in terms of the president putting her in that position and the effect it had on former President Bill Clinton. Explain that.
Brown: It turns out the disappointment, which people didn't quite get when it first happened, was a brilliant checkmate of the Clintons. Because in this position it's really important that the secretary of state does not let any daylight between herself and the president as we saw when Colin Powell really wasn't seen to be part of the Bush team. It really hurt him as secretary of state.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/art.haiti.street.jpg caption="A 2006 picture of housing conditions in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere."]
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Over the last couple days, I have been in Haiti, spending my time walking around with an adorable young gal named Deena. She is 15 years-old, and was born and raised in Haiti.
Within minutes of meeting her, there were things that were impossible not to notice. Her clothes were ragged and clearly too small for her. She hardly ever smiled, and if she did – it was fleeting and purse-lipped. She didn’t look me in the eyes, and in fact spent most of the time staring at the ground.
Her voice was weak, and, her body was frail. When I touched her back, I could feel a hollow space. As part of her introduction, I was told Deena was a Restavek, which in Creole means to “stay with.” Our guide Jean Robert Cadet was more blunt. “Make no mistake,” he said. “She is a child slave.”
Strong words, I thought. I wanted to see for myself and that is why I found myself in a shanty town outside Port au Prince, Haiti at 5 a.m. this past Sunday. It was already well over 90 degrees and there was no breeze whatsoever. We were soaking in our shirts just standing there, which makes what I began to see that much harder to imagine.