Federal Courts and Nominations

Obama To Nominate Sotomayor For Supreme Court Post


WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–President Barack Obama on Tuesday will name federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor as his choice to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court, an administration official said.

Obama will make the announcement at 10:15 a.m. EDT at the White House.

Obama’s choice of Sotomayor would make history. If confirmed, she would become the first Hispanic woman to sit on the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor is a veteran federal judge with a decade of experience on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and an additional five years of experience as a federal trial judge in the Second District. She is 54 years old and could serve on the high court for a generation or longer. She has the backing of both U.S. senators representing New York.

Conservative judicial groups, however, have questioned whether she is prepared for a Supreme Court seat, attacking rulings such as a holding that white firefighters didn’t have a discrimination claim against New York’s racial quota system.

Other reaction to Obama’s pick was swift.

Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, called Sotomayor a “liberal judicial activist of the first order,” accusing her of reading racial preferences and quotas into the Constitution.

“She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one’s sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench,” Long said.

Doug Kendall, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center, hailed Sotomayor as a judge who will ensure that the Constitution is faithfully applied.

“While CAC’s review of Judge Sotomayor’s record is continuing, we already know that she is a brilliant lawyer who is committed to ruling based on the Constitution and the law, not on her own personal political views,” Kendall said. “As Judge Sotomayor herself stated in a recent dissenting opinion: ‘The duty of a judge is to follow the law, not to question its plain terms’.”

On business matters, a legal analysis by Akin Gump’s Scotusblog.com said Sotomayor was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2005 for an appeals court ruling that allowed a class-action securities lawsuit against Wall Street firms. But she also authored two opinions that barred the European Community from suing the tobacco industry under U.S. racketeering laws.

Sotomayor would become the third woman to sit on the high court, following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is the only current sitting female justice, and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who in 1981 became the first woman confirmed to the high court.

Sotomayor is divorced. She grew up in the Bronx and has Puerto Rican heritage. Her law career began as a New York prosecutor and she went on to work at the law firm Pavia & Harcourt where she worked on intellectual property, arbitration and other business law matters.

She was nominated as a trial judge by former President George H.W. Bush and elevated to the appeals court by former President Bill Clinton.

Her judicial financial disclosure released in June 2008 shows that she at the end of 2007 didn’t have any financial investments that would cause recusal issues.

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