Tom Goldstein at the invaluable SCOTUS blog has a must-read post on Judge Sotomayor’s Appellate Opinions in Civil Cases, concerning civil litigation on
- Abortion Rights:
Sotomayor held that the plaintiffs did have standing with regard to their equal protection claim, but she ultimately held that the claim failed under rational basis review because the government “is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position” with public funds.
- irst Amendment – Speech:
Sotomayor acknowledged that the rule required individuals to choose between holding a high-ranking party position and receiving court appointments, but she ultimately concluded that such an “incidental effect on individual decision-making, however, furthers the rational and legitimate goal of eliminating corrupt court appointments.”
- First Amendment – Religion:
Sotomayor held that the inmate’s First Amendment’s rights were violated because the feast was subjectively important to the inmate’s practice of Islam.
The section on Civil Rights is extensive, involving several cases. Continuing,
- Privacy and Information:
In two cases involving requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Sotomayor wrote an opinion that declined to order the release of the requested information, explaining that she did not want to “unreasonably hamper agencies in their decision-making.”
- Second Amendment, involving a chuka stick
- Voting Rights:
“…even if Congress had doubts about the wisdom of subjecting felony disenfranchisement laws to the results test of § 2, I trust that Congress would prefer to make any needed changes itself, rather than have courts do so for it.”
- International law, concerning custody rights
Goldstein will continue his analysis of Sotomayor’s cases later. For now, he concludes that
Since joining the Second Circuit in 1998, Sotomayor has authored over 150 opinions, addressing a wide range of issues, in civil cases. To date, two of these decisions have been overturned by the Supreme Court; a third is under review and likely to be reversed. In those two cases (and likely the third), Sotomayor’s opinion was rejected by the Supreme Court’s more conservative majority and adopted by its more liberal dissenters (including Justice Souter). Those outcomes suggest that Sotomayor’s views would in many respects be similar to those of Justice Souter.
It was published in the Spring 2002 issue of Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, a symposium issue entitled “Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation,”
As one would expect for a speech to La Raza, Sotomayor stated,
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.
Does that mean that Sotomayor believes that questions of jurisprudence are all about identity politics, or was she simply posing in front of an audience?