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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

President Obama Announces Supreme Court Nominee

The Wall Street Journal - WASHINGTON -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor has built a record on such issues as civil rights and employment law that puts her within the mainstream of Democratic judicial appointees.

Among the cases she has heard during her 15 years on the federal bench -- and one that will be examined closely through her confirmation process -- is one now pending before the Supreme Court.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor was announced Tuesday as President Obama's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court. See other notable Supreme Court firsts.

Judge Sotomayor was on a three-judge panel at the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a decision by the city of New Haven, Conn., to invalidate a firefighter promotional exam after no black applicants scored high enough to qualify. Those who aced the exam said it was unfair to penalize them because others didn't do as well.

"We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' expression of frustration," the panel said in an unsigned opinion, referring to white firefighters who accused the city of reverse discrimination. "But it simply does not follow" that they have a claim under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In recent Supreme Court arguments, liberals expressed sympathy for the Second Circuit's ruling, while conservatives questioned it. A ruling is expected soon.

Judge Sotomayor would be succeeding Justice David Souter, generally a liberal vote on social issues, and her selection isn't likely to change the outcome on cases where the Supreme Court typically splits 5-4.

The question is whether Judge Sotomayor would, like Justice Souter, be a solid judicial craftsman, or emerge as a leader who can mold majorities. Liberals have long sought such a jurist since the departures of William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall nearly two decades ago.

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