Workers’ comp judicial nominee takes back comment on questionnaire

TRENTON — What was expected to be the uneventful nomination of a workers’ compensation judge just turned into a small-scale preview of the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor.

The New Jersey nominee, workers compensation attorney Theresa Yang, faced some tough questioning by state Sen. Gerald Cardinale over the way she answered a question on her application. At issue was an addendum to an answer in which she wrote “I think my ethnicity will lend a unique perspective to my position as a workers’ compensation judge.”

“I don’t believe in any of the resumes we have seen that someone has made that kind of comment,” said Cardinale. “This is an answer to a question on essentially an application. I certainly hope that does not reflect your thinking process.”

The comment Cardinale picked out had an unmistakable resemblance to Sotomayor’s so-called “Wise Latina” quote, which has become conservatives’ main ammunition against her.

Yang responded that she was just trying to make the point that she was raised to be “humble, respectful and diligent,” and upon further questioning by Cardinale said that it did not have anything to do with her ethnicity.

Cardinale then asked Yang if she regretted writing the statement.

“Yes, Senator,” she said.

Yang, a member of the state Committee on Police Standards, is listed by the committee’s Web site as house counsel for the Greater New York Insurance Company, where she represents employers in workers’ comp matters.

The panel cleared Yang’s nomination overwhelmingly, although Cardinale abstained.

Workers’ comp judicial nominee takes back comment on questionnaire