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What to Expect from Sotomayor?

June 17, 2009
Peter Orvetti

Sonia SotomayorBarring scandal or Apocalypse, Sonia Maria Sotomayor will become the 111th justice of the United States Supreme Court later this year. She could hold her place on the bench for the next quarter-century. Many have focused on her “wise Latina” comment, but what sort of justice will she be?

Her colleague on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Guido Calabresi said of her, “We have some judges on the left end of the spectrum. Sonia’s well in the middle. . . . Activism has a meaning: judges who reach out to decide things that aren’t before them. Sonia simply doesn’t do that.” Sotomayor, who will come to the high court with more federal bench experience than any justice since Horace Harmon Lurton in 1910, has a long and sometimes contradictory record. If there is one trend that emerges, however, it is that she tends to back established power over those challenging it.

Despite her long-ago description of herself as the “perfect affirmative action baby,” Sotomayor rejected 80 percent of race discrimination cases that came before her on the appeals court. Most famously in Norville v. Staten Island University Hospital, she ruled against a disabled black woman who alleged that her employer did not provide her with the same accommodations provided to white employees.

The story continues …..

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