Judging The Judge

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 27, 2009

When one considers the body of work of an appellate judge, one naturally inquires as to how many times that judge has ruled on decisions that reach the Supreme Court, and how many times the Court rules to uphold the judge’s ruling.

In Sonia Sotomayor’s case, five of her rulings have gone before the Supreme Court. Of those five, three were reversed.

Of course, five cases is not that large a sample size, especially when we consider that the judge has written 380 majority opinions in a little over a decade as a judge on the Second Circuit. But with another reversal potentially coming down the line in the Ricci case, we have all the reason in the world to ask the judge about her judicial philosophy, and expect clear, honest, and straightforward answers in reply. No one thinks that the judge ought to offer rulings in anticipation of cases that she would hear on the Supreme Court, but there is no reason why she should not give a full and detailed accounting of the nature of her jurisprudence–along with explanations for past rulings that she has issued (there is no reason whatsoever why she should not discuss her past rulings at length).

Jennifer Rubin rightly makes the point that the questioning of Judge Sotomayor should be no-holds-barred, irrespective of questions and concerns surrounding the politics of the issue. It’s a good argument and if the Senate Judiciary Committee does not want to render itself irrelevant, it will take Rubin’s advice.

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