"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life."
This is the quote that is supposedly taken out of context. The explanation I get from most sources seems to be something to the tune of:
She was speaking only about cases in which race or gender discrimination where at issue, and that being part of a group that has suffered such discrimination gives one a better perspective to make such decisions. I am aggregation and paraphrasing the typical counter argument here and not attempting to make it from straw so if anyone has better version of this explaination I would love to hear it.
The thing is that even in this context, the comment is still racist because it presupposes the traits of a group rather then a known individual.
Furthermore, this entire racism argument misses the point. Her gender or race is not supposed to be a factor in her jurisprudent. Considering them by definition clouds her objectivity. The law is supposed to be blind to race and gender. When acting it the capacity of a judge, the various components of one's identity should be put aside. Her views on this are pretty clear.
“I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that—it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.”
“I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”
I choose these quotes becasue they are emblematic of a greater aditude. They are taken out of context of their individual speeches, but not out of the greater context of Sotomayor's general additude on race gender and class.