Difference between revisions of "Sonia Sotomayor"

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*'''efficiency''' ''Singh v. City of New York'', 524 F.3d 361 (2d Cir. 2008)
*'''efficiency''' ''Singh v. City of New York'', 524 F.3d 361 (2d Cir. 2008)
*'''free-market''' ''Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Comm.,'' 880 F. Supp. 246, 256 (1995)
*'''separation of powers''' ''European Cmty. v. RJR Nabisco,'' 424 F.3d 175 (2005)
*'''transaction cost''''  ''Calif. Pub. Emples.' Ret. Sys. v. N.Y. Stock Exch., Inc.'' (In re NYSE Specialists Sec. Litig.), 503 F.3d 89, 94 (2007)

Revision as of 13:44, 27 May 2009

Sonia Sotomayor.jpg

Sonia Sotomayor (born June 25, 1954) is a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On May 26, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor, 64, would be the first Hispanic on the high court if confirmed. She would succeed Justice David Souter, who is retiring.

Obama said she "is an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice."

According to the ABA Journal, Sotomayor is,

"A political centrist, the Bronx-born Sotomayor has been regarded as a potential high court nominee by several presidents, both Republican and Democrat. Reared by her widowed mother after the death of her father, a tool-and-die worker, she has an attractive life narrative and an even more attractive resumé. She was an editor of the Yale Law Review, did heavy lifting as a prosecutor under legendary New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and worked in private practice as an intellectual property litigator. She was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush, then to the appeals court by President Clinton." [1]


In a speech in 2001, Sotomayor said "she believes it is appropriate for a judge to consider their “experiences as women and people of color” in their decision making, which she believes should “affect our decisions.”"[2]

"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."[3][4] If the "white male" and "Latina woman" were switched in this sentence, it would be decried as racism.

"The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it."[5]

"Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called Sotomayor’s appointment “the clearest indication yet that President Obama’s campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric.”[6]

"Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, blasted Sotomayor as “a radical pick that divides America. She believes the role of the Court is to set policy, which is exactly the philosophy that led to the Supreme Court turning into the National Abortion Control Board,"[7]


She graduated from Princeton University and earned her law degree from Yale University. Sotomayor was appointed a federal district court judge in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush and then elevated to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton.

Sonia Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent, and was born and raised in Bronx, NY. She attended Catholic school, but it is uncertain where she currently stands in terms of religion.

"Some sources, including Pete Williams, reported that the Judge is a Catholic. However, there has not yet been any indication of whether that report is accurate and, if so, if she actually practices her faith."[8]

"Sotomayor attended Catholic schools, but we haven't yet confirmed that she is, in fact, Catholic. If she is, she would become the sixth Catholic justice on the current Supreme Court"[9]



Decisions by Sotomayor, such as Taylor v. Vt. Dept of Ed. 313 F.3d 768 (2002), seem to show that she favors judicial restraint with respect to standing issues.


An analysis of Sonia Sotomayor's decisions shows that she sometimes uses Conservative words, such as the following:

  • strict constructionist New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council v. Hotel Ass'n, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16615 (1993)
  • judicial restraint "venerable ground of judicial restraint" in Michel v. INS, 206 F.3d 253, 267 (2000)
  • competition (in an economic context) Many cases.
  • efficiency Singh v. City of New York, 524 F.3d 361 (2d Cir. 2008)
  • free-market Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Comm., 880 F. Supp. 246, 256 (1995)
  • separation of powers European Cmty. v. RJR Nabisco, 424 F.3d 175 (2005)
  • transaction cost' Calif. Pub. Emples.' Ret. Sys. v. N.Y. Stock Exch., Inc. (In re NYSE Specialists Sec. Litig.), 503 F.3d 89, 94 (2007)



While Sotomayor has not ruled on many cases concerning abortion, she wrote a decision against a pro-choice group in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy vs. Bush.[10] The decision dismissed the claim of a Mexico-based organization which challenged policies requiring that foreign organizations neither perform nor promote abortions as a condition for receiving US funding.

Sotomayor drew a distinction between "necessary" and "family planning" abortions: "For purposes of 22 U.S.C.S. � 2151b(f)(1), "abortion as a method of family planning" does not include abortions performed if the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or abortions performed following rape or incest (since abortion under these circumstances is not a family planning act)."

Sotomayor concluded, "The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds."

President Obama recently overturned this decision.

According to the ACLJ, "Though she once ruled in favor of upholding the Mexico City Policy, pro-life organizations say her comment trumps that decision because she appears to favor Roe and how the Supreme Court made abortion policy by allowing abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason."[11]

Parental Rights

In Wilkinson v. Russell, 182 F.3d 89, 108 (2d Cir. Vt. 1999), Sotomayor quoted from Frazier v. Bailey, 957 F.2d 920. She described the case by stating, "In reaching its conclusion, the Frazier court emphasized the murky nature of parental rights". Quoting another case, she said, "Although recognizing that the Constitution extends "certain fundamental parental rights," the court held that plaintiff's allegations did not even "implicate the constitutional guarantees at issue."

Establishment Clause

Hankins v. Lyght, 441 F.3d 96 (2006) "In an age discrimination challenge by a Methodist clergyman, Judge Winter writing for the majority held that [the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA)] is properly applied to an Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim. Judge Sotomayor dissented contending that RFRA does not apply to disputes between private parties and that the ADEA does not govern disputes between religious entities and their spiritual leaders." [12]

Sotomayor stated, "The majority's opinion thus violates a cardinal principle of judicial restraint by reaching unnecessarily the question of RFRA's constitutionality. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent." (emphasis added)

"I believe that a remand is a wasteful expenditure of judicial resources and an unnecessary and uninvited burden on the parties. The district court is in no better position than we are to decide either the statutory or constitutional questions presented in this case. In my view, the most appropriate disposition of this case would be to affirm the district court's dismissal of appellant's claims on the ground that the ADEA does not apply to employment suits brought against religious institutions by their spiritual leaders. Because the majority's contrary approach disregards a clear and voluntary waiver, conflicts with RFRA's text and with binding precedent, and unnecessarily resolves a contested constitutional question, I respectfully dissent."

Free Speech

Sotomayor appears to believe in a strong right to free speech.

Sotomayor dissented in Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143, 155 (2d Cir. N.Y. 2002)

"The Court holds that the government does not violate the First Amendment when it fires a police department employee for racially inflammatory speech -- where the speech consists of mailings in which the employee did not identify himself, let alone connect himself to the police department; where the speech occurred away from the office and on the employee's own time; where the employee's position involved no policymaking authority or public contact; where there is virtually no evidence of workplace disruption resulting directly from the speech; and where it ultimately required the investigatory resources of two police departments to bring the speech to the attention of the community. Precedent requires us to consider these factors as we apply the Pickering balancing test, and each counsels against granting summary judgment in favor of the police department employer. To be sure, I find the speech in this case patently offensive, hateful, and insulting. The Court should not, however, gloss over three decades of jurisprudence and the centrality of First Amendment freedoms in our lives because it is confronted with speech it does not like and because a government employer fears a potential public response that it alone precipitated."

Title IX

In Pell v. Trustees of Columbia Univ., 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 407 (1998), Sotomayor quoted Kracunas v. Iona College, 119 F.3d 80, 85 (2d Cir. 1997): "When a teacher sexually harasses a student, that teacher discriminates on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX."

Judicial Activism

"She is a rule-bound pragmatist--very geared toward determining what the right answer is and what the law dictates, but her general approach is, unsurprisingly, influenced by her unique background," says one former clerk.[13]

ACLJ warns of her record of judicial activism. "Will she embrace her past statement that the “court of appeals is where policy is made?” This nomination raises serious questions about the issue of legislating from the bench."[14]


  1. http://abajournal.com/news/who_will_replace_justice_souter
  2. http://www.verumserum.com/?p=5306&cpage=1
  3. http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/05/26/sonia-sotomayor-nominated-for-the-supreme-court/
  4. National Journal, Identity Politics And Sotomayor, The judge's thinking is representative of the Democratic Party's powerful identity-politics wing., by Stuart Taylor, Saturday, May 23, 2009 [1]
  5. http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=45d56e6f-f497-4b19-9c63-04e10199a085
  6. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22965.html
  7. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22965.html
  8. http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=33654
  9. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/politics&id=6831739
  10. http://blogs.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/archive/2009/05/26/sotomayors-abortion-ruling.aspx
  11. http://www.aclj.org/News/Read.aspx?ID=3322
  12. http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2009/05/sotomayor-is-high-court-pick-here-are.html
  13. http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=45d56e6f-f497-4b19-9c63-04e10199a085
  14. http://www.aclj.org/TrialNotebook/Read.aspx?id=782

See also