The case(s) against Judge Sotomayor

May 27, 2009

Yesterday I explained my reasons for opposing the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice on philosophical grounds. This morning, the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog provides three cases ruled on by Judge Sotomayor that should at the least trouble any thoughtful observer concerned about the Constitution and the equal application of the law:

Equal Opportunity: In Ricci v. Destefano, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion rejecting a lawsuit from a group of firefighters who claimed the city of New Haven, Connecticut violated their civil rights by invalidating the results of a test administered to fill 15 captain and lieutenant vacancies. The lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci, battled dyslexia and spent months studying for the test, which he passed, but because no African-American firefighters passed he was denied a promotion. Sotomayor’s curt rejection of Ricci’s claims prompted President Bill Clinton appointed Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes to write: “The opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case. This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”

Second Amendment: In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor joined an opinion holding that “it is settled law” that the Second Amendment only limits federal, and not state, gun control laws. Even the famously liberal Ninth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion last month in Nordyke v. King.

Property Rights: In Didden v. Village of Port Chester, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion affirming Port Chester’s condemnation of land which plaintiff Bart Didden planned to build a pharmacy on. Didden had been approached by a politically connected developer who demanded either $800,000 from Didden or 50% stake in his pharmacy. When Didden did not comply, Port Chester condemned the land the very next day through eminent domain.

That last is even worse than the abominable Kelo decision. It’s clear that Judge Sotomayor has no regard for the property rights of the individual and may indeed be bigoted against White plaintiffs. These three cases should be explored thoroughly in the committee and the judge compelled to explain her reasoning. That may be impossible in the Ricci case, however, since that may well be going to the Supreme Court. Thus, it would be inappropriate for her to comment on it. It should still be raised by the Senators, however.

Again, I think these cases, when combined with her public statements on the role and conduct of judges, should disqualify her from serving on the Supreme Court.

RELATED: Jonah Goldberg looks at the difference between "empathy" and "activism" and argues Ricci was a racist, reactionary decision. Rich Lowry calls it a bad day for impartiality.