Sotomayor Quits Women's Group

By Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal - June 20, 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Friday resigned her membership in an all-women organization, hoping to head off criticism that she belonged to a discriminatory organization before her confirmation hearings begin next month.

The group, the Belizean Grove, calls itself "a constellation of influential women" formed in response to the all-male Bohemian Club, whose annual revels at its expansive Northern California estate are attended by powerful and influential men.

The Belizean Grove apparently doesn't own its own property, but schedules periodic events in the U.S., Belize and other locations in Central America, according to its Web site.

"I believe the Belizean Grove does not practice invidious discrimination and my membership did not violate the Judicial Code of Ethics, but I do not want questions about this to distract anyone from my qualifications and record," Judge Sotomayor wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

"The Belizean Grove is proud and privileged to have had Sonia Sotomayor as a member," Susan S. Stautberg, the group's founder, said in a statement. "We're all sorry that she is not able to continue."

A Senate Republican aide said Republicans didn't plan to object to Judge Sotomayor's membership in the group, but did hope to contrast their position with Democrats, who in past years have criticized Republican judicial nominees for membership in all-male clubs.

With Democrats holding a commanding majority in the Senate, Judge Sotomayor is widely expected to be confirmed later this summer.

Nevertheless, Republicans have hoped to blemish President Barack Obama's choice to succeed Justice David Souter, who plans to step down when the Supreme Court completes its annual term at month's end. They have questioned her suggestion, in a 2001 lecture, that a "wise Latina woman" such as herself might make better judgments "than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Judge Sotomayor has been a federal trial and appellate judge in New York since 1991.

Write to Jess Bravin at

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