Another SCOTUS Short-Lister
I mentioned former Harvard Law School dean and current Solicitor General Elena Kagan as a possible Obama choice to replace David Souter. The New York Daily News says Obama must also consider Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayer, who could be the first Hispanic on the high court.
Born in the Bronx in 1954 to parents from Puerto Rico, she was diagnosed with diabetes at 8. Her father, a factory worker, died when she was 9. Her mother supported Sotomayor and her brother, now a doctor, by working at methadone clinics.
More fluent in Spanish than in English, Sotomayor started school at Blessed Sacrament in Soundview. Then she moved on to Cardinal Spellman in Wakefield. In 1972, she made a huge leap to Princeton University, an Ivy League school that had started accepting women undergraduates only in 1969.
She aced the place, graduating summa cum laude and going on to Yale Law School, where she was an editor of a law journal. She moved on from there to work as a trial lawyer in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, as an attorney in private practice and then as a federal judge.
The first President Bush, a Republican, appointed to Sotomayor to Manhattan Federal Court in 1992. President Clinton, a Democrat, elevated her to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.
Esquire gives a glimpse of her thinking based on her most prominent decisions:
In her rulings, Sotomayor has often shown suspicion of bloated government and corporate power. She’s offered a reinterpretation of copyright law, ruled in favor of public access to private information, and in her most famous decision, sided with labor in the Major League Baseball strike of 1995. More than anything else, she is seen as a realist. With a likely 20 years ahead on the bench, she’ll have plenty of time to impart her realist philosophy.
Conservatives already have the houds out for Sotomayor, Kagan, and another possible choice, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood. Predicably, Sotomayer is accused of the horrible crime of being liberal, and of having a bad temperment.
Substantial questions also persist regarding Judge Sotomayor’s temperament and disposition to be a Supreme Court justice. Lawyers who have appeared before her have described her as a “bully” who “does not have a very good temperament” and who “abuses lawyers” with “inappropriate outbursts.”
Here’s what Obama said about the Bush SCOTUS nominees and what he would look for in a justice when he spoke with Rick Warren during the campaign.
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