Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Judge Sotomayor's decisions in discrimination cases

Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog just completed a study of all the race-related claims Judge Sotomayor heard during her eleven years on the federal court of appeals.

It turns out there were were 96 such decisions in those eleven years. Of those, she rejected the claim in all but 18 of them, and of those 18 cases only 10 were really about discrimination. Of those 10 discrimination claims where she agreed with the claim, 9 of them were unanimous decisions of the three-judge panel which heard them. Furthermore, of the 9 three-judge panels for those unanimous decisions, 7 of them included at least one other Republican-appointed judge. And finally, between those remaining two and the one non-unanimous decision where there weren't any Republican appointees, only ONE was an actual judgment on the merits of the discrimination claim: the others were judgments on procedural or technical questions, such as the jury selection process.

In other words, if you're trying to argue that Judge Sotomayor is an extremist on race, you need to confront the fact that there is only ONE decision in her eleven years on the federal court of appeals that would probably even be worth looking at.

And against that one case, even if you don't like the result (which FWIW was that a claim could proceed where the issue was purported discrimination in a kindergarten student's transfer), you'd need to weigh the fact that in another case she went out of her way to dissent, saying that a white supremacist employee in the NYPD shouldn't have been fired for distributing white supremacist literature.

My point is that when theory conflicts with fact, you need to adjust your theory. If your theory was that Judge Sotomayor is a bigot based on one comment she made in a speech, then fine: but if her record of actual decisions basically disproves that theory, you need to let it go.

Personally, I see absolutely nothing in this judge's actual decision record that suggests she is any kind of extremist on any issue, including race.
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