Supreme Court

Sonia Sotomayor Above the Law small.jpgJudge Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee with the $15,000 in unpaid dental bills, doesn’t just have problems with her teeth. From the AP:

The White House says Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has broken her ankle after an airport stumble in New York City.

Sotomayor fractured her right ankle Monday morning at New York’s LaGuardia Airport before boarding a shuttle to Washington for an afternoon of meetings with senators.

She’ll keep her six appointments on Capitol Hill Monday despite the injury, which has her walking with crutches, the White House said.

A female Hispanic judge. Who made it all the way from the projects of the Bronx to Princeton and Yale Law. On crutches.
Vote against her now, Republicans. To quote Tom Goldstein: “It’s over.”
Over at Gawker, our former co-blogger Alex Pareene writes: “Now she is on crutches, so she will probably say that crippled Latinas are way wiser than dumb white men, any day now.”
Sonia Sotomayor fractures ankle at airport [Associated Press]

Here’s interesting information about the personal finances of Judge Sonia Sotomayor (2d Cir.), nominated last month to the U.S. Supreme Court. A tipster directed our attention to this post from the NYT’s Caucus blog, observing: “You can’t spend most of your professional life as a judge and get rich. Maybe Biglaw is the way to go.”

This excerpt hits the highlights:

[Judge Sotomayor] disclosed few assets other than her home in New York. After 17 years on the federal bench, Judge Sotomayor reported having just $31,985 in cash and no stocks, bonds or securities. She has a $381,775 mortgage on her home, valued at $1 million, and owes $15,000 in dentist bills and another $15,000 in credit card bills.

Fifteen grand in dentist’s bills? Well, she does have a nice smile.

In defense of Judge Sotomayor’s financial state, she’s a single woman, no kids, with a six-figure income ($179,500), high job security, and generous retirement benefits. For competing assessments of Her Honor’s finances, see TaxProf Blog.

New Documents Reveal Sotomayor’s White House Contacts [The Caucus / New York Times]
Judge Sotomayor’s Savings [TaxProf Blog]

perfectUnion.jpgYour ATL editors kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a trip to the East 13th Street Theater in Manhattan, where we saw A More Perfect Union, presented by the Epic Theater Ensemble. The play, by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen, is about two members of The Elect — i.e., two Supreme Court clerks, who fall in love while clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court. Maddie, a white Jewish woman from Ohio, clerks for a fictional conservative justice called “The Wise One”; James, an African-American man from Georgia, clerks for a fictional liberal justice called “The Enlightened One.”
Like the night we spent reviewing Law Revue videos, there were highlights and low points. A big highlight was a post-play discussion featuring former New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse. As you know, we are what some might call Greenhouse groupies, though she was not as excited to talk to us as we were to talk to her. We just got a little handshake, a “nice to see you,” and an introduction to her daughter.
The post-show discussion also included professors Elizabeth Emens and Susan Sturm, both of Columbia Law School. Professor Sturm mentioned being a law school classmate of SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whom she described as “a straightforward person, who doesn’t hide from her background or make decisions based on it.” She also defended Judge Sotomayor’s Berkeley remarks about personal experience informing a judge’s jurisprudence, noting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg basically said as much in discussing the recent strip search case before the Court (noting that her colleagues, who seemed less sensitive to the plaintiff’s plight, “have never been a 13-year-old girl”).
Obviously, we think the legal world is an exciting place, and we are always thrilled to see the courts get dramatic treatments. But our standards for fictional treatment of the courts, and especially the Court, are high.
Check out our reviews, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Theater of the Courtroom (Or, A Review of A More Perfect Union)”

Sonia Sotomayor Above the Law small.jpgRight now the news cycle is dominated by the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor (2d Cir.) to the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ve been following the story closely, of course, and we’ll have more later.
In the meantime, check out Underneath Their Robes, where Clerquette has been blogging up a storm. Her latest posts appear here and here (don’t miss the photo montage at the end).
We’ve expressed our views on the Sotomayor nomination. What do you think?
We’ve heard some opinions expressed in the comments, but the commenters are not always representative of the ATL readership as a whole. So please take our reader poll:

The Sotomayor Nomination: The Morning After [UTR]
SCOTUS Leaderboard: Sonia Hits an Ace! [UTR]

sonia sotomayor above the law.jpgThis morning we covered the announcement by President Barack Obama of his intention to nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor, of the New York-based Second Circuit, to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. This afternoon, we participated in a conference call between a senior Administration official and several reporters, to discuss the Sotomayor nomination. Here’s a quick write-up of the call.
“Obviously it’s an historic day here at the White House,” the official noted, referencing the fact that Judge Sotomayor, if confirmed, will be the first Hispanic (and only the third woman) to serve on the SCOTUS. He stressed that the president took the choice “very seriously,” and read “literally thousands of pages” of judicial opinions and academic writings by the potential nominees. (Of course, as a former law professor, Obama is used to such intellectual heavy lifting.)
Obama interviewed four candidates personally (and Vice President Joe Biden also talked to the final four): Judge Sotomayor; Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit; Solicitor General Elena Kagan; and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. He picked Judge Sotomayor based on three factors: (1) her overall level of intellectual capacity and legal acumen, reflected in her academic record, her work as a lawyer, and her judicial service; (2) her approach to judging, including her legal craftsmanship and her ability to win over colleagues on the Second Circuit; and (3) her compelling personal story, which was placed front and center at this morning’s press conference.
Then the floor was opened up to questions. Read more, after the jump.

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SCOTUS speculation small.jpgYours truly is covering the White House press conference, over on Twitter.
For more detailed discussion of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, see our prior post.
Earlier: Breaking: Obama To Nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor (2d Cir.) to Supreme Court

sonia sotomayor above the law.jpgAs we once wrote about Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit, paraphrasing the lyrics of another high-powered Latina who made it from the South Bronx to the pinnacle of fabulosity and fame, “Don’t be fooled by the robes that she’s got; she’s still Sonia from the block.” Despite her high station as a federal appeals court judge, the down-to-earth Sotomayor has her clerks over to her apartment, for card games and drinks.
It now looks like “Sonia from the Block” might be taking up residence on a new block — One First Street, in Washington. From The Caucus:

President Obama has chosen Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Federal Appeals Court as his nominee for the Supreme Court, officials said on Tuesday, and has scheduled an announcement for 10:15 a.m. at the White House.

Ms. Sotomayor, 54, will be the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court if her nomination is approved by the Senate.

The president reached his decision over the long Memorial Day weekend, aides said, but it was not disclosed until Tuesday morning when he informed his advisers of his choice less than three hours before the announcement was scheduled to take place.

The president narrowed his list to four, according to people close to the selection process, including Federal Appeals Judge Diane P. Wood of Chicago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

Congratulations to Judge Sotomayor. She will be a tough nominee for Republicans to defeat, due to her compelling personal story. To read about that story — which took her from the housing projects of the South Bronx to Princeton, Yale Law School, the legendary New York D.A.’s office, private practice, the S.D.N.Y. trial bench, and the Second Circuit — see the New York Times profile or her Wikipedia entry. It also won’t hurt her confirmation prospects that she (1) would be the first Hispanic justice and (2) was appointed to the district court by the first President Bush (even though she was really the pick of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, not the Bush White House).
Will SS thank Jeffrey Rosen in her nomination acceptance speech? Professor Rosen, with his attack piece on her, sparked a backlash — in the blogosphere, from Latinos, and in liberal circles more generally — that may have helped her nomination in the end.
There’s extensive discussion of the Sotomayor nomination over at SCOTUSblog, where Tom Goldstein was analyzing the nomination dynamics as early as 7:30 this morning. Goldstein is of the view that her confirmation is almost certain, absent any major surprises, and we tend to agree. The potential roadblocks — her involvement in the controversial Ricci v. DeStefano affirmative action case, her unfortunate quip about courts making policy — just aren’t big enough to stop her (and her history-making nomination).
(According to SCOTUSblog, the AP publicly reported the news of her nomination first. But in this day and age, in which news spreads almost instantaneously, scoops tend not to last for longer than a few minutes.)
This should be an interesting confirmation. Stay tuned.
Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee [The Caucus / New York Times]
The Dynamic of the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor [SCOTUSblog]
Sonia Sotomayor [Wikipedia]
On a Supreme Court Prospect’s Résumé: ‘Baseball Savior’ [New York Times]

SCOTUS speculation.jpgConservatives won’t be happy with President Obama’s pick to succeed Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. But some nominees are more noxious than others. Of the names surfacing on SCOTUS short-lists, who can conservatives live with — and who would drive them up the wall?
We reached out to Curt Levey, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, and solicited his thoughts on the Obama shortlisters. More specifically, we asked him to rank the possible nominees from most problematic to least.
Levey kindly obliged. Assuming the nominee will be a woman, an assumption that is almost universally shared, he grouped the most commonly mentioned names into three groups.
In the first tier — consisting of the most problematic nominees, with “judicial activism guaranteed” — Levey listed three: Judge Sonia Sotomayor, of the Second Circuit; Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit; and Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School (and one of the most famous failers of the California bar exam, along with this guy).
For the second tier — containing nominees who are still “very liberal,” but might have some respect for the rule of law, “if only because they haven’t proved otherwise yet” — Levey mentioned three: Solicitor General Elena Kagan; Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Finally, in the third tier, Levey mentioned two names: Justice Leah Ward Sears, of the Georgia Supreme Court, and Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, of the Ninth Circuit. He described Justice Sears and Judge Wardlaw as jurists who have at least “shown some respect for the rule of law.”
The bad news for conservatives: the nominee will probably come from Levey’s top two tiers.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pick Your Poison: A Conservative Ranks SCOTUS Possibilities”

SCOTUS speculation.jpgIs it possible to be on the short list to fill Justice Souter’s place on the Supreme Court and not even know it? Newsday reports:

Much to her surprise, the dean of Hofstra University Law School woke Sunday morning to find she had just been thrust into the national political conversation as a possible contender for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.
National Public Radio speculated that Dean Nora V. Demleitner, 42, of Port Washington, was among those being considered by President Barack Obama for a job on the nation’s highest court.
“I was very surprised in that NPR mentioned me,” Demleitner said in an interview Monday. “It’s an incredible honor to be mentioned.”

Does anybody know how the rumor got started? Even Long Island court watchers seem surprised:

Brian Griffin, former president of the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County, said he read about Demleitner’s potential candidacy in the newspaper….
Demleitner said she was baffled about how her name got mentioned.
“Like everybody else, I know a lot of people who have connections, but I could not begin to imagine who would have done it,” Demleitner said of a possible nomination.

If the dean of Hofstra Law School was actually appointed to the Supreme Court, would she hire clerks from Hofstra? If so, would Justice Scalia’s head simply explode?
The possibilities are tantalizing.
Hofstra law dean honored to be mentioned for Supreme Court [Newsday]
Earlier: Supreme Speculation: And Then There Were Six

john roberts.jpgEveryone’s a-twitter about Jeffrey Toobin’s profile of Chief Justice John Roberts in this week’s New Yorker. And with good reason. We’re not sure whether the title of the profile, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” is meant to describe Roberts or Toobin.
We’re sure you’re familiar with Toobin, the ubiquitous legal analyst whose resume includes gigs with CNN and ABC, as well a Harvard Law School degree, a stint as an assistant U.S. attorney, time on the Oliver North trial, a Second Circuit clerkship, and many books, including The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. And he’s not yet 50 years old (though he’ll be 49 on Thursday, according to Wikipedia).
But back to Roberts. He gets a fairly harsh appraisal in the profile, coming across as a political stooge:

After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

Toobin does not appear to be a fan of the Roberts Court. More on the elephant in the courtroom, after the jump.

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