Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Acting White: Judge Sonia's Silent Sidestep

I had not made the connection between Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court and that court’s current critical deliberation, until my hits on a past post (here) went sky high. It seems that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was knee deep in this New Haven, CT case of white firefighters suing for racial discrimination, because the City threw out the captain and lieutenant’s test, as the consequence of no blacks and few Latinos scoring in the money.

In quick review, Sotomayor was on a three-judge panel that heard an appeal to the district court’s finding in favor of the City. With nary a scintilla of written analysis, team Sotomayor upheld the lower court's ruling. This unusual response earned a rebuff from appellate Judge Jose Cabranes, who said about Sotomayor and crew, “Indeed, 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”.

It was Judge Cabranes rejoinder that helped entice the highest court to take the case, as a constitutional matter. So the question of Sotomayor is a fair one. Do we want a judge sitting on the highest court of the land, who would take a pass on a case begging for her to flex her constitutional muscle? After all, is this not the very objective of the job? Activist or not, judges need to back up their opinions for the public to see. Beyond the partisan rhetoric, I respectfully wonder about Judge Sotomayor's fortitude, and so should the country.

James C. Collier

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Anonymous said...

You've heard by now that President Obama plays 11 dimensional chess. Well Sonia Sotomayor plays it too.

You've also seen her video where she says that policy is made in the appeals court, and where she says she is not saying it should be made in the appeals court.

Very shrewdly, what Sotomayor perceived and what she did was to intentionally comment on that case in such a manner that her fellow judge was bound to comment on it, and the Supreme Court was bound to pick the case up. And all in a way which let her plausibly deny making policy.

I am hopeful this helps.

Body You Want said...

She's too left for my taste but has proven to be an inspirational story.

I commend her rise to a Supreme Court nomination but not her interpretation of the Constitution.

Jay Hammers said...

Anon - I had the same suspicion. If Sotomayor had ruled for the firefighters she would have been labeled an activist judge.

Anonymous said...

New Haven did not reject the promotion of the white firefighter (Ricci); New Haven rejected all test results because the test violated Title VII.

Far from being an "activist" judge, Sotomayor ruled according to existing law.

Anonymous said...

If the tests were illegal under VII then why did New Haven even give them to start with?

I can't help but wonder that if a "fair" amount of "other" races had done as well as the white firefighters would this even be an issue even though it should be under VII.

If that question is asked and the reply is "the promotions would have been given" then it is reverse discrimination in spite of VII...

I think there's more to this than meets the eye and that Sotomayor cared to deal with.

What else as a Supreme Court Justice will she not want to deal with?

Anonymous said...

"I commend her rise to a Supreme Court nomination"

Yes, she was clearly the most qualified candidate - being both a woman AND a hispanic. I have not managed to achieve either of those things, and I doubt I ever will.

"I can't help but wonder that if a "fair" amount of "other" races had done as well as the white firefighters would this even be an issue even though it should be under VII."

If even one black had passed the threshold, he would have been automatically promoted. It would be a non-issue. If you read the background of the case, it's pretty clear that the test results were thrown out because they failed to serve the agenda of the Mayor in pandering to his increasingly black constituency. Whether or not the test was biased was never even raised as an issue.

Anonymous said...

This Judge is a brown racist member of la raza and guess what she went to private schools and her brother Dr. doesn't take poor government sponsored folk.

Reaganite Republican Resistance said...

Unless you are delusional, Sotomayer is a racist, as are all members of the treasonous La Raza -by definition- who’s motto is “For our race everything- for others, nothing”.

Clearly Eric Holder has some racial hangups and agenda too… as does Obama, since his behavior betrays a wierd pro-Kenyan grudge against the British… and he’s the one who nominated all these kooks.

What happened to the idea of a colorblind society? Team Obama define their world in racial terms all the time- and unlike any white people I know. I wouldn’t want to be judged by any of them after what I’ve heard come out of their own mouths- they sound like Jesse Jackson.

If Obama is going to go on with his “justice” agenda largely based upon race- the double standards need to stop, and NOW.

Anonymous said...

Anon @2:28

"If the tests were illegal under VII then why did New Haven even give them to start with?"First of all, the test were not "illegal"; its just that the test results did not conform with Title VII defined metrics.

Second, the company who designed the "promotion test" had previously designed New Haven's "entry level" test with no problem; however this "promotion test" was the first one this company ever designed.

New Haven was absolutely correct in not certifying the test results based on the law as it now stands.

The Circut Court (Sotomayor) could not on its own decide to nullify the result metrics used in determining "disparate impact" of Title VII - only the Supreme Court can nullify/re-interpret existing law.

Anonymous said...

Non whites need to step up to the plate and grab what they can while the grabbing is still good. The US debt is 53 trillion and going up and up and up and up. Soon there won't be enough guilt ridden white liberals to keep the checks rolling in for you all.

Anonymous said...

Anon @2:28 regardless of all the "hooey" if one black man would have passed with a high enough grade the results would have stood and he would have gotten the raise and the others would have to get raises or it would have been blatantly racial, and in spite of that ancient VII law it IS racial anyway.

It may be a law but it can still be wrong.