Friday, May 15, 2009

One vote for the Judge

Ron Jordan Natoli Studio/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Judge Sonia Sotomayor ended a baseball strike in 1995.

On a Supreme Court Prospect’s Résumé: ‘Baseball Savior’

For some, that counts more than her Princeton degree.

Federal judges are rarely famous or widely celebrated. Yet during a brief period in 1995, Judge Sonia Sotomayor became revered, at least in those cities with major league baseball teams.

She ended a long baseball strike that year, briskly ruling against the owners in favor of the players.

Take me out to the ballgame.

The owners were trying to subvert the labor system, she said, and the strike had “placed the entire concept of collective bargaining on trial.”

Part of the reason [for her consideration as Justice Souter's replacement] is her approach on the bench, which she displayed as a trial judge in the baseball strike and for the last 11 years has shown as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York City. She questions lawyers vigorously, and delivers what her admirers say are crisp, forceful and reasoned decisions.

But her potential appeal to President Obama as a nominee to the Supreme Court also derives in part from her personal story, a version of the up-from-modest-circumstances tales that have long been used to build political support. Judge Sotomayor, 54, grew up in a Bronx housing project, a child of Puerto Rican immigrants. She would be the court’s first Hispanic justice.

I vote for her.

She went to Princeton, which she has described as a life-changing experience. When she arrived on campus from the Bronx, she said it was like “a visitor landing in an alien country.” She never raised her hand in her first year there. “I was too embarrassed and too intimidated to ask questions,” Judge Sotomayor said.

Selected case of Judge Sotomayor.

In addition to ending the baseball strike while on the trial court, Judge Sotomayor ruled in another case that homeless people working for the Grand Central Partnership, a business consortium, had to be paid the minimum wage.

And why not? Exploitation is exploitation.

In 1997, Republican senators held up her nomination by President Bill Clinton to the appeals court for more than a year, because they believed that as a Hispanic appellate judge she would be a formidable candidate for the Supreme Court.

That's rich. Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, they were simply the best candidates available, and simply happened to be white conservative men. Well, Thomas isn't white, but he sure is from the same mold as his three cohorts.

Some lawyers have described her courtroom manner as abrupt, but several others said in interviews that it represents nothing more than her direct, New York style. Judge Martin Glenn, who as a veteran appeals lawyer had appeared before her frequently, said that she was widely regarded as an excellent judge.

Abrupt? And the lawyers, is one to suppose, are kind and genteel?

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