June 2nd, 2009
12:50 PM ET

Sotomayor, great judge, strict constructionist

Lanny Davis
The Washington Post

Suppose a black female nurse is seriously injured during her work at a hospital and is forced to take a medical leave of absence. When she returns almost a year later, she reapplies for new jobs but doesn't get any offers of comparable salary and seniority. For one of the jobs for which she was turned down, two white women with disabilities are chosen. For another job for which she was rejected, a younger white male is hired.

So how did Judge Sonia Sotomayor rule? The ultra-right talk-show hosts who spent all last week attacking the judge as a "liberal activist" or even a "racist" would surely predict that she would have ruled in favor of this sympathetic black female with a severe disability.

They would have been wrong.

Read Judge Sotomayor's 11-page published opinion, on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of Norville v. Staten Island University Hospital. The case, decided Nov. 3, 1999, can be found in the published federal court decision reports at 196 F.3d 89.

She found no race or age discrimination and voted for a new trial on the disability claim because of legally erroneous jury instructions.


Filed under: Justice Department • Supreme Court
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