Here’s the short version:
Sonia Sotomayor goes to testify at the Senate confirmation hearings. She lies about the “wise Latina” speech that she has repeated time and time again in the period between 1994 and 2003.
As John Hinderaker points out,
Sotomayor’s characterization of the context of her “wise Latina” remark is the opposite of the truth. She wasn’t “agreeing with the sentiment that Justice O’Connor was attempting to convey,” as she told Senator Leahy. Rather, she staked out a position in opposition to O’Connor’s. In her speech she expressly disagreed with O’Connor’s view, as Sotomayor put it, “that both men and women were equally capable of being wise and fair judges.
By the way, as a Puerto Rican woman born and raised in the island, this “wise Latina” nonsense would have been received by my Puerto Rican mother with a most uncordial reality check: accident of birth does not wisdom make.
She’s going to get confirmed no matter what.
The Republicans better save their energy for the Senate debate on government healthcare.
Messed up on Kelo, too.
Title of the post inspired by The Reduced Shakespeare Company, who have nothing to do with Senate hearings.
You can watch it here (below the fold since it starts playing immediately):
You can watch it here (below the fold since it starts playing immediately):
Yesterday at McClatchy:
Sotomayor backers urge reporters to probe New Haven firefighter
Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are quietly targeting the Connecticut firefighter who’s at the center of Sotomayor’s most controversial ruling.
On the eve of Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearing, her advocates have been urging journalists to scrutinize what one called the “troubled and litigious work history” of firefighter Frank Ricci.
What is “troubled and litigious work history”, pray tell?
Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he’s dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.
The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci’s retaliation complaint.
Politics of personal destruction didn’t take long: Today at Salon, Dahlia Lithwick is already saying, Fire Proof: The New Haven firefighter is no stranger to employment disputes.
The NYT has an article on Ben Vargas (h/t Volokh, another one of the firefighters who were denied promotion over Sotomayor’s decision. Like Sotomayor, Vargas was born and raised in the Continental US of Puerto Rican parents.
…by electing on Feb. 15, 2008, to dispose of the case by a cursory, unsigned summary order, Judges Sotomayor, Rosemary Pooler and Robert Sack avoided circulating the decision in a way likely to bring it to the attention of other 2nd Circuit judges, including the six who later voted to rehear the case.
And if the Ricci case — which ended up producing one of the Supreme Court’s most important race decisions in many years — had not come to the attention of those six judges, it would have been an unlikely candidate for Supreme Court review. The justices almost never review summary orders, which represent the unanimous judgment of three appellate judges that the case in question presents no important issues.
Read the rest (and here’s Judge Jose Cabranes bio)
Court Rules for White Firefighters, hence overruling Sotomayor:
The Supreme Court, voting 5-4 in a case that has been a lightning rod for high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, invalidated a Connecticut city’s decision to scrap the results of a firefighter promotion exam in which the white candidates scored better than their black peers.
While employers should actively work to create fair paths to promotion, they may not overturn tests based on the results, moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s opinion.
“Once that process has been established and employers have made clear their selection criteria, they may not then invalidate the test results, thus upsetting an employee’s legitimate expectation not be judged on the basis of race,” Kennedy wrote. The court’s four other conservative justices joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion.
You can read the complete ruling here.
Law professor William Jacobsen points out,
Assuming Sotomayor is confirmed, her presence on the Court would have made no difference in Ricci, since she is replacing Souter. The 5-4 split likely will give Sotomayor’s supporters comfort, since while she would have been in the minority, several current Supreme Court Justices agreed with her conclusion in the case. Nonetheless, there is plenty of fodder for Sotomayor’s opponents, both in the rejection of her position by the Court and her failure to deal with these issues head on, deferring instead to a lower court’s opinion.
However, Ed Whelan points out that,
although there is a sharp 5-4 divide among the justices, not a single justice thought that Judge Sotomayor acted correctly in granting summary judgment for the City of New Haven.
Whelan also quotes Justice Alito on Judge Sotomayor’s Failure of Impartiality
Petitioners were denied promotions for which they qualified because of the race and ethnicity of the firefighters who achieved the highest scores on the City’s exam. The District Court threw out their case on summary judgment, even though that court all but conceded that a jury could find that the City’s asserted justification was pretextual. The Court of Appeals then summarily affirmed that decision.
The dissent grants that petitioners’ situation is “unfortunate” and that they “understandably attract this Court’s sympathy.” But “sympathy” is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law—of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until today’s decision, has been denied them.
Check out Bench Memos for more on this case.
The irony of the case lies in Ricci, who is dyslexic, having rejected favoritism under the Americans With Disabilities Act, finally prevailing but after the expense and strain of taking his case all the way to the highest court in the country.
Identity politics is, in a word, wrong.
The Supreme Court ruled today that Arizona school officials violated the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old girl when they subjected her to a strip search on the suspicion she might be hiding ibuprofen in her underwear.
The court ruled 8-1 that such an intrusive search without the threat of a clear danger to other students violated the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search or seizure.
Lyle Denniston, writing at SCOTUS blog points out that :
The new rule is that searching students’ inner clothing, with exposure of their bodies, will be extremely difficult — though not impossible — to justify.
The other constitutional rule — searches of public school students’ backpacks, notebooks, other belongings, outer clothing, and pockets are generally allowed if they are based on “reasonable suspicion” — remains as it has for a quarter-century, but with a small amount of refinement, the exact scope of which is not quite clear.
Thursday’s decision only applies to future searches, so the Constitution does not provide them a remedy.
And, hopefully, this will prevent cavity searches, too.
I spent this rainy afternoon at Princeton’s Mudd archives, where the senior thesis are kept, reading Sonia Sotomayor’s 1976 senior thesis, La Historia Cíclica de Puerto Rico: The Impact of the Life of Luis Muñoz Marín on the Political and Economic History of Puerto Rico, 1930-1975.
Since I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I am very familiar with the island’s politics in the 1970s, I thought it would be interesting to read what she had to say.
First for a little background:
Back in the 1970s, the independence movement was relatively popular among a minority of Puerto Ricans. In the referendum prior to Sotomayor’s thesis, the independence movement received 6% of the vote. Young people who studied abroad, particularly those in Ivy League schools (many studying law), were fond of talking about independence and referred to the island as a “colony”. I have never considered myself a “colonial”, and for the most part ignored that rhetoric. That modicum of popularity for independence has declined: In the 2008 election, the Puerto Rican Independence party had so few votes they will need to register the party again if they want to run a candidate for governor.
The thesis is exactly what it says in the title, a political and economic history of the island focused on former governor Luis Muñoz Marín. It has a four-page preface, 148 pages of text and footnotes, and an additional 21 pages of bibliography and reference material.
On page ii of the preface, she says, “I do not disclaim in this thesis that I do not reflect my own bias toward independence for Puerto Rico,” and on page 98, “Unlike the labeled “socialism” philosophy of the 1940s, Operation Bootstrap was based on a negation of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of utter dependency on the colonial master, the United States.”
I pay particular attention to these two statements since Stuart Taylor Jr pointed to them in his Tuesday post (h/t The Corner). Taylor quotes award-winning history professor K.C. Johnson of Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center, who said,
First, I’m curious as to when Sotomayor ceased being a Puerto Rican nationalist who favors independence — as she says she does in the preface. (The position, as she points out in the thesis, had received 0.6 percent in a 1967 referendum, the most recent such vote before she wrote the thesis.) I don’t know that I’ve seen it reported anywhere that she favored Puerto Rican independence, which has always been very much a fringe position….
There is nothing in the thesis that I could find to indicate that the young Sotomayor, while favoring independence back then, would have advocated anything other than legal and democratic means towards that goal.
My question is, how important is that now, 33 years after the fact? Since she was never a resident of Puerto Rico, one can safely assume that she never participated in Puerto Rican politics. Does she favor independence now? How important is that? Under what circumstances would a Justice have any power to decide on the status of Puerto Rico?
Professor Johnson correctly points out that
she asserted that Muñoz Marín’s economic program, called Operation Bootstrap, failed primarily because Puerto Ricans continued to think of themselves as colonials. This … was 1970s-trendy dependency theory rhetoric, but was wholly unsupported by the evidence that she presented in the thesis (and, indeed, by virtually any evidence that has appeared since that time).
However, I must respectfully disagree with Prof. Johnson in this,
her unwillingness to call the Congress the U.S. Congress is bizarre — in the thesis, it’s always referred to as either the ‘North American Congress’ or the ‘mainland Congress.’ I guess by the language of her thesis, it should be said that she’s seeking an appointment to the North American Supreme Court, subject to advice and consent of the North American Senate. This kind of rhetoric was very trendy, and not uncommon, among the Latin Americanist fringe of the academy.
While the Latin Americanists to this day are fond of referring to the USA as the North Americans, Sotomayor, on chapter 2, page 7, is discussing the US Congress and the Puerto Rican Congress in the same paragraph. She differentiates between the two on footnote 1:
North American “mainland” and “federal” throughout this paper will refer to the United States and its fifty states excluding Puerto Rico. This [
entomologyCORRECTION] etymology is accepted as appropriate labels throughout Latin American and Puerto Rican literature. Puerto Rico will be referred to as “island” or “insular.”
She did need to clarify between the two congresses, as she discussed in her thesis a 1909 confrontation between the Puerto Rican congress and the mainland, which was resolved when the US legislature broke the impasse. However, she does refer to the United States by name throughout the thesis.
And that was thirty-three years ago.
Clearly not a “colonial”, Sandra Sotomayor is now nominated to the SCOTUS.
The issues that I consider most important what is her record on jurisprudence and upholding the Constitution, and let’s ask about what those “wise Latina” statements convey on how she decides on a legal issue.