"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Yes, somewhat awkwardly put. But within its context, the statement, part of a lecture in 2001 at the Berkeley School of Law, makes sense. Sotomayor was referring to the fact that she grew up in an immigrant family in the Bronx and as a member of a minority group, which may give her an added understanding of individual cases:
"For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Others simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be the presence of women and people and color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experience and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what the difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."
Glenn Greenwald has pointed out that conservative Supreme Court Judge Sam Alito made similar statements during his confirmation hearings:
"Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position. ...When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."
The meaning of Sotomayor's statements and their similarities with Alito's makes no difference to right-wing commentators out to spread fear and division. In this video from Media Matters, a succession of wingnuts call the judge a "racist" based on one statement taken out of context:
The most outrageous comment is from the always buffoonish Glenn Beck, who states, "Hispanic chick lady. You're empathetic? She says, 'Yup!' They say, 'You're in.' That's the way it really works." Such ignorant comments deny Sotomayor's compelling life story and legal accomplishments. They also don't help Republican loyalists add women and Hispanics to the party's shrinking base of support.