since 2004

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

In class, gender, governance, racism on May 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

This week the media was abuzz with charges that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is racist for a comment she made in 2001. Have it be known, I am not a fan of Sotomayor. But, the debate about her nomination provides yet another high profile pulse check on this country’s completely misdirected analysis of racism.

What is wrong with someone stating that her subject position — as someone who has faced a number of very real hurdles — might imbue her with a responsibility to think more sharply, more deeply, and with more complexity about the social and legal issues of our time? To me, her comment says nothing of being smarter or better; it is an articulation of her personal commitment to acting smarter, and striving for better thinking in lawmaking. She’s saying her experience provides a vantage point from which she might use her power more responsibly. Her comment reflects an ethic of holding oneself to a higher standard, of not forgetting what the world looks like from the other side of the bench.

As I said, I am not convinced she is the best for the court, but you should all decide for yourselves and ignore this nonsense about reverse racism.

The kind librarians at Library of Congress put together these resources for you:

Congressional Documents

These are her two confirmation hearings:

United States.  Congress.  Senate.  Committee on the Judiciary.  Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments, Part 9. Washington: US G.P.O., 1992.  S. Hrg. 102-505, pt. 9.

United States.  Congress.  Senate. Committee on the Judiciary.  Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments, Part 2. Washington: US G.P.O., 1998.  S. Hrg. 105-205, pt. 2.


According to Lexis, Judge Sotomayor authored 422 opinions when on the bench for the Southern District of New York and 232 opinions with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She also wrote 22 concurring opinions and 21 dissents as an appellate judge. Second Circuit opinions are available from the Court’s website (use Sotomayor as a search term).

Click here for more articles, web resources and more on Sotomayor.


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