Schumer: Sotomayor 'Within the Judicial Mainstream' on Immigration
By Amy Goldstein
A key Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee has conducted a review of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s immigration cases as an attempt to counteract conservatives’ characterization of the appeals court judge as an out-of-step liberal.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee, assigned his staff to analyze how Sotomayor voted in 955 immigration cases in which she has participated throughout her judicial career, with a special focus on cases that involved foreigners trying to win asylum claims in order to remain in the United States.
Of the 848 asylum cases in which Sotomayor has taken part, Schumer’s aides say, she sided with the foreigner over the government in 144 of them, or 17 percent of the time. That percentage, the aides point out, is virtually identical to that of the entire 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, of which she is a member, during a two-year window analyzed as part of a recent article published in the Stanford Law Review by law professors at Temple and Georgetown universities.
It is not surprising that her record is similar to that of the 2nd Circuit as a whole, because the court reached unanimous decisions in all but three of the asylum cases there in which she participated. In the only case in which she dissented, Schumer’s staff say, she sided with the government.
Based on the findings in the law review article, Sotomayor’s record of siding with asylum seekers is two percentage points higher than the average of 15 percent for circuit courts nationwide during 2004 and 2005, the two years the law professors examined. She has been a circuit judge since 1998 and was a federal trial judge for a half-dozen years before that. Schumer’s aides haven’t finished analyzing how she voted during the same two years covered in the law review article, and said there is no easy way to compare her record in such cases with those of circuit judges nationally throughout her time on the federal bench.
Schumer said: “These findings should put to rest any doubts about Judge Sotomayor’s fidelity to the rule of law. Even in immigration cases, which would most test the so-called ‘empathy factor,’ Judge Sotomayor’s record is well within the judicial mainstream.”
June 8, 2009; 6:17 PM ET
Categories: Supreme Court
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