Sotomayor Rulings Give Insights

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is under scrutiny from those who are worried about her remarks about her superior reasoning abilities as a “wise latina”. She apparently made such comments on many occasions over the years, which is troubling.


Obviously a conservative American white man could say that his judgment was superior to any other person since the freest and richest nation in the history of the world was founded by the thinking of conservative white men called the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. But that man would then be eliminated from consideration for the Supreme Court on racial grounds.


Sotomayor also offered this disquieting quote at Duke University in 2005:


“All of the legal defense funds out there, um, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience. Because it is… the Court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know- And I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don’t make law. I know. [Laughter from the crowd.] Okay. I know. I’m not promoting it and I’m not advocating it. [More laughter.] I’m, you know. Okay. [Sotomayor laughs.]”


The laughter came because the audience knows that Sotomayor is being facetious. Because they know that she favors judicial activism in the left’s ongoing effort to remake the judicial system with law-making, not interpretation. This is very disturbing since judicial activism is one of the most controversial and essential subjects in all of jurisprudence.


Sotomayor’s legal positions offer just as much to think about as her language. Here are a few examples, with comments:


*Sotomayor said in a New York state case called Hayden v. Pataki (the governor of New York state at the time was George Pataki) that the federal Voting Rights Act can be invoked in order to force states to give voting rights to currently imprisoned felons. Since blacks and latinos are overwhelmingly represented in prisons, she said that it is discrimination to deny them the right to vote because it is a denial based on race which contravenes the VRA. Comment: This is the racial thinking of a “wise latina” and involves a decision based on racial empathy and not law. It is concocted law. This is another in a long line of Democrat efforts to give voting rights to criminals – usually released, but now for those in prison too – who vote overwhelmingly Democrat.


*Sotomayor showed herself willing to impose a ‘green’ agenda from the courts. In Riverkeeper v. EPA, Sotomayor sided with Riverkeeper which, despite its benign-sounding name, is a New York City enviro group manned by lawyers, not nature lovers and kayakers. Riverkeeper said in the suit that power plants should use every technology available, no matter the cost, to keep fish and other river dwellers from being sucked into power plant cooling water intakes.


Sotomayor dissented with EPA’s ruling that the Clean Water Act allowed plants to use technology that is cost-effective. Comment: With the new ‘climate change’ juggernaut coming down the pike, these enviro groups are preparing for a financial bonanza at the expense of the citizens of the United States who will pay higher costs for energy with every pro-enviro ruling. In April 2009, the Supreme Court overturned the Riverkeeper decision in a 6-3 ruling.


*In a 2004 case in the second circuit, Environmental Defense v. the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Sotomayor agreed with the majority against the environmentalist point of view which  challenged  EPA’s acceptance of a New York state plan to meet national air quality standards for ozone. Comment: So she has ruled both ways on the environment.


*In Didden v. Village of Port Chester, Sotomayor ruled in 2006 that Bart Didden had no claim in the case where he wanted to develop a CVS pharmacy in Port Chester, New York on land that the town zoned for waterfront development where the developer hired by the town planned to build a Walgreens pharmacy.


The village eventually condemned Didden’s land and paid him $975,000. Didden sued the village in district court and lost. Sotomayor sat on the three-judge panel that heard the appeal. She and her colleagues ruled unanimously that Didden had no claim. The Supreme Court declined to hear Didden’s appeal. Comment: This is said by some business experts not to be the anti-business smoking gun that many think. There are many complexities in the deal that indicate such which are too convoluted to try and explain here. 


*Sotomayor ruled in January 2009 that states do not have to obey the federal Constitution’s 2nd Amendment that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.


In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor signed an opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the second circuit that said the Second Amendment does not protect individuals from having their right to keep and bear arms restricted by state governments. Interestingly the case did not even involve guns, but  martial arts weapons. In the case a man named James Maloney had been arrested for possessing a pair of nunchuks. New York state law prohibits the possession of nunchuks.


The opinion said that the Second Amendment only restricted the federal government from infringing on an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Comment: Her decision is very troubling for 2nd Amendment backers.


*Regarding abortion, Sotomayor has ruled in two cases in ways that suggest she could favor the pro-life position. In 2002, Sotomayor rejected a challenge to President Bush’s so-called Mexico City policy requiring foreign groups receiving US funds to pledge that they would not support or promote abortion. Sotomayor spoke for a three-judge panel that upheld the policy as constitutional. The government “is free to favor the antiabortion position over the pro-choice position and can do so with public funds,” she said.


Sotomayor  was raised a Catholic in New York City and has been a member of Childbirth Connection, a group that helps young mothers prepare for caring for a baby.


*In 2007, in a case that concerns pro-abortion groups, she joined an appeals court ruling that upheld a school district policy requiring teachers to notify a parent if they saw that a female student was pregnant. The court said that the teachers had no legal basis for objecting to the policy. Comment: These are encouraging signs for the pro-life movement.


*In a case from 1989, Sotomayor sided with anti-abortion protestors who said that police had used excessive force against them. Comment: This case dealt with criminal procedures and questions of municipal liability, not directly with abortion. But it still is interesting.


So Sotomayor has a mixed record. But often people who are up for promotions by liberals like Obama turn sharply to the left in order to accommodate their patrons. Just remember how far to the left that moderate Democrat US senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut turned after he was chosen as Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential election. Or they just turn left, as did ultra-liberal Supreme Court associate justice David Souter who was chosen for nomination by president George HW Bush at the recommendation of two New Hampshire conservatives, US senator Warren Rudman, and John Sununu.


All in all, Sotomayor’s agenda to date cannot be clearly defined, although she tends to be very liberal. And her repeated statements about judicial activism and race-based thinking continue to be the most troubling thing we know about her. Perhaps from her rulings conservatives might see her as more of a centrist than some of the other candidates Obama could pick. It is hard to say without further investigation into her past decisions, which shall be covered here in the future.


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