The NYT's headline yesterday: Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle
Photo caption: "Conservatives say Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s race-based approach to the law is grounds for her to not be a Supreme Court justice."
Sure seems like she definitively has a "focus on race" and a "race-based approach to the law", huh?
This conservative talking point and attack line on Sotomayor is based on her signing onto one federal appeals court decision, Ricci v. New Haven. Of course, the conservatives don't bother to look at the rest of her judicial record, and neither does the Times.
Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog does bother, reviewing her participation in nearly 100 decisions involving race in some way.
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; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had occurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent’s point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.
Goldstein's conclusion: "Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking."
It's great to see someone do a complete review of her record, rather than just repeat and advance the conservative line that Ricci, controversial as it is, defines her career on issues of race. It clearly does not.
via Jay Rosen