Tuesday, July 23, 2024

All Eyes on Sonia Sotomayor

Since New York Federal Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s name surfaced as a prime contender for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, she has become the object of much criticism and praise in part because of her appeal to two of President Obama’s key consistencies: women and Latinos.

It is widely speculated that Obama will pick a woman, as the case for a second female justice has been widely touted in Congress and by women’s groups, especially because Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now the lone female on the bench.
Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center says, “We would be disappointed if it is not a woman.  “It is not acceptable to have only one woman on the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Hispanic leaders are calling for the first Latino justice, male or female to be named.

Ramona Romero, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association says, “There will be great displeasure among Latinos and Latino leaders, if they are passed over again, as they were by the Bush administration. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Justice [David H.] Souter’s planned retirement came out. This is an issue of deep importance to our community.”

Sotomayor, 54, a child of Puerto Rican parents, grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx. She was an excellent student and graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School.

President George H.W. Bush named her a U.S. district judge in 1992; then, six years later President Clinton elevated her to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Obama has said that he wants someone with empathy, which Sotomayor clearly has. However, she has been heavily criticized from unnamed clerks and lawyers—saying she can be abusive to lawyers and domineering in the courtroom. Supporters of Sotomayor have pushed back on these attacks which they describe as unfair.
As a former law professor, the president would probably want someone of high academic achievement, and a young enough candidate who could serve for at least two decades.  But, as Lee Epstein, a Northwestern University law professor says, “I don’t think he can do it all now.  Who out there meets all of these various little boxes?”

Los Angeles Times