An Asterisk for Sotomayor?
By Robert Barnes
For those keeping track of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's success record at the Supreme Court, she might receive a half-point -- or maybe it's just an asterisk -- for the court's ruling yesterday in a case called Forest Grove School District v. T.A.
The justices ruled 6-3 that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not bar parents from receiving private school tuition reimbursement from public school districts even if the public schools have not previously served the child. The case before the court was from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, but its decision referenced a 2006 decision that Sotomayor joined on the 2nd Circuit. That decision, Frank G. v. Board of Education of Hyde Park, made the same interpretation of 1997 amendments to IDEA.
Incidentally, the Forest Grove decision was the first time this term the court upheld a ruling of the liberal and often-beleaguered 9th Circuit.
The Forest Grove decision was written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Interestingly, the dissent was written by the man Sotomayor would replace, Justice David. H. Souter, and joined by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
It is safe to say that the review of a 2nd Circuit decision that the court has not yet announced will make a bigger splash. In Ricci v. DeStefano, a discrimination suit filed by white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., the appeals court agreed that the city was justified in not using a promotions test that resulted in no African-Americans being eligible for advancement. Sotomayor was part of the original three-judge panel that upheld a district judge's ruling.
That Supreme Court decision will come within days.
June 23, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
Categories: Docket , Supreme Court
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