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Court Watch: An Analysis of Sotomayor's Decisions on Race-Related Cases

By Garance Franke-Ruta
The indispensable SCOTUSBlog, from the Washington-based firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, has published an analysis of every race-related decision made by appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor, finding that she rarely disagreed with her colleagues on cases involving claims of discrimination.

Meanwhile, Pollster.com has aggregated the latest surveys and found a huge gender gap in favor of Sotomayor among female Republicans as compared with male members of the GOP, but no dramatic gender difference among Democrats.

Tom Goldstein, a partner at Akin Gump who has argued more than 20 cases before the Supreme Court, writes: "Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases" while on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The reference is to the well-publicized case Ricci v. DeStefano, which involved a promotion exam for New Haven, Conn., firefighters. The case is now under review by the Supreme Court.

"Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times," he continued; "the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous."

"Of the roughly 75 panel opinions rejecting claims of discrimination, Judge Sotomayor dissented 2 times," Goldstein writes.

"The numbers relating to unpublished opinions continued to hold as well. In the roughly 55 cases in which the panel affirmed district court decisions rejecting a claim of employment discrimination or retaliation, the panel published its opinion or order only 5 times," Goldstein writes.

"In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. ... Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking."

And Pollster.com's Margie Omero writes: "Yesterday I posted on some Gallup data on voter reactions to Sotomayor. Quinnipiac released new data today, and both Gallup and Quinnipiac were nice enough to share party by gender crosstabs. These data continue to show that women, particularly Republican women, respond strongly to Sotomayor's nomination. ...

"In the Gallup poll, both Democratic and Republican women are more supportive of Sotomayor than their Democratic counterparts. The difference is more modest among Democrats (men: +46 'excellent/good pick' minus 'only fair/poor' pick; women: +54). Among Republicans the difference is sizable (men: -44; women: -11).

"The Quinnipiac poll is consistent. There is no difference in the ratings of Democratic men (+74 'approve' minus 'disapprove') and Democratic women (+76). But Republican women are almost evenly divided on Sotomayor's nomination (-9), while Republican men are more decidedly disapproving (-39)."

Posted at 4:08 PM ET on May 30, 2009  | Category:  Supreme Court
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Another woman adds her support to Sotomayor. I look forward to her confirmation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hW_tVDDdro

Posted by: Victoria5 | May 31, 2009 11:53 PM

If a white man had made these racist comments, they would have not made this far. White men areblame for everything, I am sick of it. I know slavery was wrong, but I do not own any slaves, I know white people have advangaes in the past because of color, but this a different generation. I do not hate black people. The double standard can exist at the highest court in the land.

Posted by: nativeva1 | May 31, 2009 11:05 PM

"Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times," he continued; "the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous."

Thus further proving the republican base is insane.

Posted by: rooster54 | May 31, 2009 7:28 PM

Bring on the propaganda machines. I am a woman who supported Hillary Clinton but I do not support Sortomayor's nomination.

I disagree with Democrats who say it is okay to make prejudiced remarks about others of a different race. It is just not okay.

On top of those disrespectful and degrading comments she has the New Haven decision where she failed to recognize the legal and constitutional merit of the firemen's case - and they just happened to be the same gender and race she depicted in her comments.

Americans of all genders and colors deserve better - and would expect better if she were a white male. Therein lies the problem.

Another Democratic judicial nominee fiasco just like Clarence Thomas. But he still got his seat and likely this candidate will as well. But neither of them will be respected by the public that they alledgedly serve.

Posted by: mgd1 | May 31, 2009 6:01 PM

Madam Sotomayor has left a huge footprint on numerous individuals who through no fault of their own have requested justice concerning their civil rights and have received instead biased opinions and extreme violations of their constitutional protections.

Posted by: a4853916 | May 31, 2009 4:30 PM

No
This is not Obamaland.
This is not Congress' grazing Pasture off of taxpayers.
This is the people's Country who do not want a blazing racist, who has gotten it wrong 60% of her career.
No.
Posted by: dottydo | May 30, 2009 8:11 PM


-----------------------------------------

Where on earth are you getting your facts? 60%?

In her time on the 2nd Appeals she has heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases, and has written about 380 opinions where she was in the majority. The Supreme Court reviewed five of those (with one still sitting before the Supreme Court), reversing three and affirming two – not high numbers for an appellate judge of that many years.

Don't be so lazy, research on the net is easy.

Posted by: alysheba_3 | May 31, 2009 11:41 AM

Will Sotomayor turn out to be the GOP's gift, just as Souter was the Democrats gift?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=5398


.

Posted by: usadblake | May 31, 2009 10:33 AM

I'm rather curious what her views are concerning equal rights for gay people. Thus far not a whisper from the press about that.

Posted by: jpsbr2002 | May 31, 2009 12:11 AM

hispanic is not a race its a culture.

Posted by: donaldtucker | May 30, 2009 10:45 PM

An allegory concerning Republican tactics:

In the days after God rested from all the work he had made, he began filling in the blank spaces in the world with various terrains and living things.

In a large area with lots of water on its Southeastern Coast God planted a garden to be ready when men got to it. The Devil was furious and went to work on the garden, putting thorns on most of the growing plants, and many of the animals, making a lot of what was left poisonous, noxious, or just damned annoying, and dried out most of the center of that mess until bricks god jealous of the heat treatment that land got. Looking around the Devil proclaimed himself satisfied and named the place Texas.

God, meanwhile, had moved on and begun working farther North, and farther East. Again he planted a garden, well waterred and with marvelous plants to look at and wonderful animals for the men who were coming to hunt and fish for. This also infuriated the Devil, but having wasted his thorns, horns, venom, and bile on Texas, all he had left was winter.

And God created skis.

You might think the Devil would have learned before Texas, but you would think that these poker playing Texans would be able to recognize three aces and two kings when they are already showing.

So why do those Republicans continue to raise?

Posted by: ceflynline | May 30, 2009 10:39 PM

"Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking."

Well duh. The people making such claims _are_ absurd! A bunch of buffoons - I'm so glad they are no longer in charge.

Posted by: hitpoints | May 30, 2009 8:54 PM

The right wing loonies could only aspire to have the intellect of somebody like Sotomayor. Since they cannot attack her qualifications, they resort to useless soundbites.

Of course there is a difference of experiences between a white male like George W. Bush, a product of a wealthy elite that has ruled this country, and is accepted to Yale because he comes from a wealthy white family and spends most of his time cheerleading for the football team while there, and a hard-working Latina from the Bronx who grows up poor and is accepted based on her academic record. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and got a scholarship to a university education based on her excellent academic record. At Yale, where she served as editor of the Yale Law journal, she graduated summa cum laude. Playing the race card will not work this time for the right-wingers.

Of the 110 people who have served on the Supreme Court, only four were not white males. These white men, who have controlled the US Supreme Court since its foundation, believe somehow experiences don't affect who we are?

This same Supreme Court, made up of white men, upheld the laws against interracial marriages in Pace v. Alabama (1883); it upheld segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); in United States v. Thind (1923), it held that Asians could not become citizens because they were not white; it found to be legal the internment of Japanese-Americans in Hirabayashi v. United States (1943), and so on...

Posted by: CyberPost | May 30, 2009 8:45 PM

Sometimes I kind of wonder why ANY women are Republican.Posted by: theRealCalGal


Really?

It might be more important to the Nation to know just who and what La Raza is, and why they are wearing gang shirts on the streets that say "Mexican Only" on the back of them, with Police looking for them in Arizona and California.

We know already that Cecilia Muñoz, Senior Vice President of La Raza, has been appointed to the intergovernmental affairs position in the Obama White House.

John Trasviña, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development is a board member of the La Raza Lawyers Association, CORO of Northern California. After returning to California, he taught immigration law at Stanford Law School. In 2006, he was named President & General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF). He serves on the boards of the Latino Issues Forum and Campaign for College Opportunity and recently served as Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

The full intent to break apart the USA looms large to most people, with the odd economic ideas, lately.
The people want another Judge, why cry on and on about it?

How about a nice Jewish, Irish, or Hawaiian girl , or a mixed race woman ...but at least someone who calls herself an "American" before a racial heading?


Posted by: dottydo | May 30, 2009 8:37 PM

No
This is not Obamaland.
This is not Congress' grazing Pasture off of taxpayers.
This is the people's Country who do not want a blazing racist, who has gotten it wrong 60% of her career.
No.

Do the people have a voice any more?
No.

Posted by: dottydo | May 30, 2009 8:11 PM

Why beat a dead horse?

SS is eminently qualified: 2d in her class and summa cum laude at Princeton, editor of her law school's law review, and possessor of more experience on the federal bench than any SCt nominee has had in 100 years. 100 years! Her "Latina" comment is no different from past off hand comments from Alito, O'Connor, and Thomas. BHO is right. This criticism, this tiresome chasing of bogus talking points of notoriously bigoted radio entertainers, must stop. Your stats are welcome but it does show you are chasing (and thereby giving credence to) the Rush/GOP talking points. Sad.

I am infuriated by the silly picking at SS so I can only imagine the rage and disgust felt by the Hispanic community.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 30, 2009 6:50 PM

Once again, the concrete evidence portrays the GOP as shrill alarmists putting party loyalty before facts and policy. It's astonishing that no one in the party is confronting these fools for their silly antics.

With the last women and Hispanic voters heading for the doors now, you'd think someone would stand up and say "enough." Wouldn't you? Please?

Posted by: thecheddar | May 30, 2009 6:30 PM

Sometimes I kind of wonder why ANY women are Republican.

Posted by: theRealCalGal | May 30, 2009 6:10 PM

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