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Another quick reaction re Judge Sotomayor

Judge Sotomayor and I were students at Yale Law at the same time. I didn't know her personally, but she seemed to be a quite nice, typical Yale Law student.

I have two main worries about her, and no, they don't concern the items mentioned in Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic piece. The first is the 2001 taped interview where Judge Sotomayor clearly appeared to heap scorn on those who distinguish the judicial function from policy-making. Either she was sincere in that talk (in which case she is disqualified from elevation to the Supremes, in my view, as she does not understand the judicial function) or she was dishonestly pandering to an activist audience (in which case she is a panderer: and then why should the Senate Judiciary committee members believe anything she says to them?) My second concern is her pitiful Ricci opinion, currently about (I hope) to be overturned by the Supreme Court. It evidences a shallow knee-jerk jurisprudence, at least on matters pertaining to race. As Marie points out below, her Maloney decision is downright silly -- maybe another sign of a reflexive knee-jerk leftism, but (most favorable option) maybe just thoughtlessly joining a decision she did not think about.

A word about race, etc. I actually think there are hundreds, likely thousands, of people with the judicial temperament and intellectual ability to be very good Supreme Court justices. Picking among THE QUALIFIED could quite legitimately be done using "affirmative action" standards -- thereby ensuring that various parts (geographic, ethnic, sexual) of the nation know they are not excluded from consideration. Partly symbolic positions such as these are precisely ones where representativity is relevant. Of course I am talking about using symbolic factors (race, sex, state of residence, etc.)IN ADDITION TO merit, not INSTEAD OF merit. Whether Judge Sotomayor has the temperament and the intelligence for the job is indeed the question -- but I do think her ethnicity and great personal story are legitimate plusses.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.