Recent portrayals of 2nd Circuit Judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor characterize her as being in the mainstream of the liberal minority voting block. This is true, but it also puts her within a minority that is growing more marginalized as Justice Roberts leads the Court in a direction that clearly believes it’s not 1972 anymore. And while Roberts danced around the edges of the issue, in a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia stated explicitly that the Supreme Court couldn’t duck the crucial issue much longer: do attempts by employers, including government, to avoid so-called “disparate impacts” fly in the face of the constitutional prohibitions against racial discrimination?
Audiotape of the oral arguments in Ricci v. DeSteffano, the New Haven Connecticutt firefighers case, show the short shrift Sotomayor gave to the arguments of the white (and Hispanic) plaintiffs. The complete oral argument is contained in this Wall Street Journal blog post: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/05/29/sotomayor-tape-reveals-views-on-ricci-v-destefano-discrimination-case/
Sotomayor’s and the views of other liberals belie the traditional “activist” terminology. In the Ricci case, the Second Circuit ignored the obvious political baggage brought into the case by New Haven’s seven-term mayor–including a not-so-cameo appearance by New Haven community activist, the Reverend ____Kimball, who Justice Kennedy, writing for the Mahority in Riccis, is presented as a New Haven cross between former Obama-guru Rev. Jeremiah Wright and a less-evolved Al Sharpton. While the majority puts Mayor DeStefano front and center of the testmanship gameplaying, Sotomayor is heard wondering why the plaintiffs even named the New Haven Mayor in their lawsuit, claiming “politicians say stupid things all the time” as if such stupidity somehow shields them from liability.