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Rosen on Sotomayor, Part IV - The Liberal Dissenter:

Jeff Rosen will have another article on Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the July 1 TNR. This article focuses on her dissenting opinions and concludes that Sotomayor is, in fact, quite liberal, and could help push the Court to the left in economic and criminal law cases. Here's a taste of the article:

If Sotomayor's majority opinions are often hard to distinguish from those of her fellow appellate judges, perhaps that's not surprising in a genre so heavily constrained by legal precedents. It's often in dissents that appellate judges can express their true selves--their passions, judicial philosophies, and unique views of the law. And Sotomayor's little-noticed dissents are clearly the opinions in which she has the greatest personal investment. Unlike her majority opinions, her dissents sometimes show flashes of civil-libertarian passion or indignation, even as they remain closely grounded in facts and precedents. Most important, they are substantively bold, staking out unequivocal liberal positions--from a broad reading of the Americans with Disabilities Act to sympathy for the due-process rights of a mentally ill defendant.

Sotomayor, who published 226 majority opinions on the merits during her more than ten years on the appellate court, published only 21 dissents--a rate slightly below average for appellate judges. Although not always ideologically predictable, they are far more liberal than her majority opinions: According to Stefanie A. Lindquist of the University of Texas, Austin, 63 percent of her dissents can be characterized as liberal, as opposed to 38 percent of her majority opinions. (Only five of the 21 dissents are clearly conservative.) It's in these dissents that a different view of Sotomayor emerges: a judge who can be both crusading and open-minded. . . .

Even if Sotomayor may not turn out to be a master of internal court politics in the style of Obama's judicial hero, Earl Warren, her dissenting opinions suggest that she could play a different but still useful role: a strong voice for civil liberties, and economic and social justice--sometimes in the majority, sometimes in dissent. The fact that the Roberts Court currently has no liberal justice who consistently plays this role is all the more reason to welcome the addition of her voice. As Frank Cross puts it: "She may not have been my first choice, but she's a good choice. Her dissenting opinions look liberal but not knee-jerk, and she goes against the grain sometimes; she issued a few significant conservative decisions." And the politics of her appointment are so overwhelming that they're difficult to resist. For these reasons, conservatives will have a hard time attacking her as judicial ideologue, and Democrats can vote for her with hope and expectation.

ruuffles (mail) (www):
Cute title. In case anyone else is wondering

Sotto voce (pronounced [ˈsotːo ˈvotʃe], literally "under voice" in Italian) means to speak under one's breath. In music, a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental tone — not necessarily pianissimo, but with a hushed quality. An example of Sotto voce is in the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor. The singers lower their volume in order to attain the 'hushed' quality desired.
6.16.2009 1:14pm
CJColucci:
Jeff Rosen will have another article on Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the July 1 TNR.

Why?
6.16.2009 1:16pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
strong voice for civil liberties, and economic and social justice

Thank you for this morning's supply of codewords. In reality, her support for "social justice" means that she was on the board of this group for 12 years, and a member of this group for six.

Conservative/Republican leaders would have a hard time attacking her if she went to Cuba tomorrow and burned a thousand American flags while humming the L'Internationale, so that doesn't mean much. But, if non-Beltway, non-Orin Kerr BHO opponents want to block her the way to do it is to turn public opinion against her. That's not difficult considering the groups she was involved with and her very strong support for identity politics and so on. That just has to be done by those outside the Beltway because those inside are too dumb and/or too corrupt.
6.16.2009 1:19pm
The Cabbage (mail):
. . . a different but still useful role: a strong voice for civil liberties, and economic and social justice--sometimes in the majority, sometimes in dissent. The fact that the Roberts Court currently has no liberal justice who consistently plays this role . . .

I don't understand why he thinks Stevens or Ginsburg are not strong voices for civil liberties, and economic and social justice.

At least in terms of how I'm assuming he defines such terms.
6.16.2009 1:39pm
CJColucci:
The Cabbage:
Maybe because he thinks Sotomayor is a hot-blooded Latina while Stevens is a dried-up old WASP and Ginsburg is an old Jewish nudge?
6.16.2009 1:43pm
Mike& (mail):
Jeff Rosen will have another article on Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the July 1 TNR.

Why?


Rosen doth protest too much, me thinks.

Seriously.

Rosen has shown he has no integrity.

When it looked like he could throw Sotomayor under the bus, he did a hit job on her. He used anonymous sources to trash Sotomayor's ethics and ability.

Every since Sotomayor's nomination, Rosen has been doing feel-good pieces showing what a good liberal Sotomayor is.

He'll keep publishing pieces until everyone forgets that he was initially opposed to Sotomayor's nomination.
6.16.2009 1:52pm

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