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Sotomayor and race: reverse-discrimination ruling rankles

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Virtually since the moment President Obama announced Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee to the Supreme Court, America's chattering classes have been fixated on one quote:

"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," she said in a 2001 speech in Berkeley, Calif.

Now, however, critics looking to parse her statements might have further evidence of her leanings on affirmative action.

In Ricci v. DiStefano, a reverse-discrimination case that Sotomayor heard as a member of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, Sotomayor slips into the use of a royal "we" at a key moment, suggesting that she considered herself aligned with those defending race-based hiring practices, according to a Monitor analysis of an audio recording of the hearing.

The case concerns the city of New Haven, Conn., which threw out the results of a promotion test for city firefighters because no blacks qualified. Fourteen white and one Hispanic firefighter who were denied promotions because of the decision sued the city, claiming "reverse discrimination."

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