Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So it's Sonia Sotomayor, for SCOTUS. Here's the White House release summarizing her background.

The first Hispanic for the Court (Cardozo was Portuguese - Latino, but not Hispanic), clearly very smart, a respected judge with what Obama touted as bipartisan support (we'll see), the Judge who saved baseball (opinion here), and a judge with a compelling personal story (kind of like Clarence Thomas).
Here's a useful summary and set of links from the Times.

The serious question, of course, is what all that means. When you eliminate the commentary from the rabble-rousers, best guess seems to be that she'll be another in the line of raging moderates who get called liberals (Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, Stevens). Jeffrey Toobin suggests that she "will be a voice like David Souter for moderate liberalism." And pretty much everyone expects her to be confirmed.

Although the commentariat has not yet weighed in with much on her criminal law jurisprudence or record, we know a couple of things. She was a prosecutor, which points one way. But she was prosecutor in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau who was an ardent opponent of the death penalty. And as a District Judge in New York and then a judge on the Second Circuit, she didn't have occasion to deal with capital habeas cases.

But the first notes I've seen aren't pretty. A background/analysis article in the New York Law Journal (here) points to cases where she ruled against our clients cases involving car searches, parole revocation, "conspiracy to use a facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of enticing a person under the age of sixteen years to engage in sexual activity," hearsay at sentencing, and limitations on cross-examination.

No comments:

Post a Comment