Sotomayor Criminal Cases: Liberal, No Larger Vision


The judicial opinions of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, are marked by diligence, depth, and unflashy competence, the New York Times reports. In cases involving criminal defendants, employment discrimination, and free speech, her rulings are more liberal than not. They “reveal no larger vision, seldom appeal to history and consistently avoid quotable language,” says the Times’s Adam Liptak.

Sotomayor's rulings have sometimes anticipated the Supreme Court. In 1999, she refused to suppress crack cocaine found by police officers who were executing a warrant that had been vacated 17 months before but never deleted from a police database. That kind of error, she said, did not require suppression. The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion a decade later. On other occasions, she has been content to wait for definitive guidance from the Supreme Court. In January, she joined a decision rejecting a Second Amendment challenge to a New York law prohibiting the possession of chukka sticks, a weapon used in martial arts made up of two sticks joined by a rope or chain. The decision reasoned that last year’s high court ruling establishing an individual right to bear arms had not yet been applied to the states. The chukka stick case may reach the Supreme Court.

Comments are closed.