Mo Sotomayor

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on June 1, 2009

I've been doing my homework on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Specifically, I've been looking at the Ricci case.

The Wall Street Journal has posted the audio of the oral arguments in the case before the 2nd Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat. I also went and read the transcript [PDF format] of the oral arguments in that case before the Supreme Court.

After having listened to and read those documents, respectively, the thing that jumps out at me as Sotomayor's biggest, most puzzling decision, is that to issue a one paragraph affirmation of the district court's finding.

Listen to those oral arguments. Read the transcript -- there are issues of fact that need to be investigated, and the district court granted a summary judgment. When you read the Supreme Court transcript, not even the federal government, which takes the City of New Haven, Conn.'s, side believes the summary judgment should be upheld. Even they believe that there are serious fact issues that need to be investigated.

The issue, when Sotomayor comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee, shouldn't be why she came down on the side of a result that denied firefighter Frank Ricci a hard-earned promotion, but why she believed that a summary judgment was warranted.

Both "sides" on the Supreme Court appeared to believe that a summary judgment was not warranted in this case -- and summary judgments have a high initial hurdle to overcome. From every indication we have, the district court judge and a 7-6 2nd Circuit majority appear to be way off in left field on this one.

For those who are interested, here's some easier-to-digest background on the case from Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.


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June 2009



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