The History Book Club discussion


Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) This thread is about Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and all related topics.

Sonia Sotomayor – the fearless federal trial court judge who saved major league baseball from a ruinous 1995 strike – managed an easy win in her confirmation to the United States Supreme Court in 2009. In cruising to a 68-31 confirmation vote in the Senate, largely along party lines, Sotomayor entered the record book as the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the High Court.

As President Barack Obama's first pick to the Court to replace the retiring Justice David H. Souter, Sotomayor offered a compelling personal story. Raised by her widowed mother in a Bronx, New York housing project, Sotomayor proved a stand-out student and earned an opportunity to attend Princeton University. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, went on to Yale Law School, and then spent periods working for the Manhattan district attorney and in private practice commercial law. In 1992, the Bush Administration appointed Sotomayor—a life-long Democrat – to a federal district court thanks to the efforts of Democratic Senator Daniel Moynihan. In 1997, Moynihan again supported Sotomayor, this time securing her appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit under the Clinton administration.

Sotomayor's rise from poverty and success in law made her a judge immediately attractive to the Obama administration. While campaigning for the presidency in 2008, then Senator Obama articulated his views on the judicial appointments he would make as president. Given his background as a law professor at the University of Chicago, Obama noted that a small percentage of difficult cases required judges who had not only legal mastery, but also a "depth and breadth" of empathy to correctly view "how the world works." Political conservatives voiced strong objections, viewing "empathy" as a euphemistic excuse to ignore legal precedent in favor of liberal policy. However, Sotomayor's supporters countered that her empathy simply referred to the valuable wisdom she gained from challenging life experiences. Most importantly, this meant her ability to understand how another person feels without accepting or rejecting the appropriateness of that feeling.

President Obama's nomination of Judge Sotomayor became a clarion call to muster conservative opposition by pouncing on the need for empathy. But with Senate control in Democratic hands, the outcome was never seriously in doubt. Sotomayor proved adept at saying or conceding nothing that would reveal her honest preferences. In baseball parlance, she managed to minimize the strike zone while fouling away pitches that might have proved damaging. She was confirmed by the Senate on August 6 and took the oaths of office administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on August 8, 2009.

Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx on June 25, 1954 to Juan Sotomayor and Celina Baez, both native Puerto Ricans. Her father worked in manual labor and her mother was a nurse. They met and married in America during World War II while Celina was working in the Women's Army Corps, the program that facilitated her emigration. Following a few re-locations after the war, they settled in the Bronx borough of New York City. The family took residence in the Bronxdale Houses, one of the most coveted complexes in the city-owned housing projects. These were built in to order provide affordable housing to working-class families. The complex lacked the gang violence and alarming disrepair popularly associated with "the projects," and instead boasted of clean grounds, a diverse working-class community, and apartments that Sotomayor called "spacious, pristine, white." She described Bronxdale as a place with "all sorts of people, every one of them with problems, and each group with a different response, different methods of survival, different reactions to the adversity they were facing." Out of this myriad of challenges, she saw "kids making choices," either for good or bad.

The Sotomayor family possessed the fighting pioneer spirit that comes naturally to immigrants, while also retaining a distinctly Puerto Rican heritage. Since her father only spoke Spanish, Sotomayor did not learn to speak English fluently until he passed away when she was nine. Following his death, Celina began working six-day weeks as a nurse to support the family, raising Sonia and her brother Juan alone. Sharing with many immigrant Puerto Ricans the suspicion that public schools were rowdy and dangerous, Celina managed to send both the kids to private Catholic school. At one point, she saved the little money she had to buy Sonia an encyclopedia set, which she became known for throughout Bronxdale. Her brother Juan, now a successful physician, fondly recalls the high ambitions he and his sister held while still surrounded by poverty. "Our mother instilled those dreams in us," he said. Sonia reflects similarly on her specific dream: "I was going to college and I was going to become an attorney, and I knew that when I was 10." Sotomayor conceived the idea of becoming an attorney when watching an episode from the legal drama "Perry Mason." When a prosecutor on the show stated that serving justice meant losing cases when the defendant was innocent, Sotomayor took note. "I noticed that Perry Mason was involved in a lot of the same kinds of investigative work that I had been fascinated with reading Nancy Drew, so I decided to become a lawyer," she stated. With this goal already in mind, she studied diligently while attending Cardinal Spellman High School. She acquired her reputation as a bookish student at this early stage of her academic career, but also involved herself heavily in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Through a proactive approach to education and self-enforced discipline, she began meriting distinctions and carving out a path for her future. In 1972, she graduated valedictorian of her class. More importantly, her early success had earned her a scholarship to study at Princeton University, where she began attending the next year. Upon arrival at the Princeton campus, Sotomayor found the environment like nothing she had ever experienced. Surrounded by circles of academic elites and peers who grew up with privileges she could only imagine, she expressed that she felt like a "visitor landing in an alien country." Sotomayor's other-worldly confrontation with the Ivy League school motivated her to earn her place squarely, which she set about accomplishing through an unwavering devotion to her studies. One columnist summed up her reputation at Princeton as "a fanatically driven worker, who lived on caffeine and cigarettes."

At Princeton, she revealed another important dimension to her personality—detached pensiveness. Specifically, she preferred casual relationship over emotional engagement. She was a careful observer who put much thought into the affiliations she would make. She joined student groups selectively—bearing in mind the implications of these affiliations—but did not hesitate once committed to outwardly expressing a belief. When serving as a co-chairman of the Puerto Rican activist group Accioncion Puertorriquena, she accused the Princeton administration of discriminating against Puerto Ricans in hiring. She insisted that this was part of a broader effort "to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to oblivion." While frank, she defied bitterness and was generally viewed as warm-hearted rather than resentful. In support of this work for Puerto Rican rights, she crafted an impressive senior thesis on the life of the famed Puerto Rican Luis Munoz Marin, confirming that for her activism was a far second to scholarship.

message 2: by Alisa (last edited Nov 13, 2011 02:02PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) biography continued
In 1976, Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton with her bachelor's degree in history, gaining election into Phi Beta Kappa along the way. She also won the prestigious M. Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, which recognized her as the senior who best exhibited a scholastic spirit, strong character, and the ability to lead effectively. Before continuing to Yale Law School the next year in pursuit of her J.D., she wed her high school boyfriend, Kevin Noonan (the two would divorce seven years later).

At Yale she began to display the thought processes that would shape her legal mind. Her personal quiescence remained, but her intellectual assertiveness strengthened. She published a noteworthy article on Puerto Rico's right to offshore minerals and was known for always making persuasive arguments. She co-chaired the Latin American and Native American Students Association and worked as an editor for the Yale Law Journal. Many classmates testified to her ability to see an argument as an independent entity, which should be worked through properly before reaching a conclusion. "She wanted the argument to work," remembered Stephen Carter, a Yale classmate. "She would tell you why she thought something, and the 'why' never had anything to do with where she came from."

Her interest in becoming a litigator strengthened as she increasingly devoted herself to the thought-processes of law, and by the time of her graduation in 1979 her mind was settled. The legendary Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau hired 25-year-old Sotomayor to work in his office in 1979, thanks to the recommendation of Jose Cabranes, a professor at Yale Law. As an assistant district attorney, Sotomayor began work in a trial unit that prosecuted everything from petty crimes to homicides. She established herself early as an imposing prosecutor who, despite her young age, would not get pushed around. According to Morgenthau, "some of the judges like to push around young assistants and get them to dispose of cases." However, he recalls, "no one pushed around Sonia Sotomayor; she stood up to the judges, in an appropriate way."

A massive wave of crime had plagued New York City in the 1980s, and prosecuting for the city in the heart of Manhattan was trial by fire for a young criminal attorney. She helped put some of the most heinous criminals behind bars and triumphed in high-profile cases, including the famous Tarzan murder case and a major child pornography bust. Perhaps more impressively, she gave equal attention to the cases with less hype.

During confirmation hearings for Sotomayor, Morgenthau stated that she "understood that every case is important to the victim and appropriately gave undivided attention to the proper disposition of all of them." She worked meticulously in an environment pressuring her to cut corners, and always sacrificed her own time instead of the quality of her work. The Manhattan office was no place to be soft on crime, and Sotomayor's generally liberal views did not impede her stiff view on justice. While sympathizing with petty criminals whose actions "could be the product of the environment and of poverty," she never let this derail her from her work. She had an easier time coping with violent crime. "No matter how liberal I am, I'm still outraged by crimes of violence. Regardless of whether I can sympathize with the causes that lead these individuals to do these crimes, the effects are outrageous," she said.

In 1984, Sotomayor moved into private practice with the New York City law firm of Pavia & Harcourt, which focused in business and corporate law. According to George M. Pavia, the partner who hired her, "she's an excellent lawyer, a careful preparer of cases, liberal, but not doctrinaire, not wild-eyed. Sotomayor excelled in her work on intellectual property rights and copyright litigation and made partner in 1988.

On the recommendation of the Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the George H. W. Bush administration nominated Sotomayor to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on November 27, 1991. Her appointment resulted from a judge-trading scheme congressional Democrats had worked out with the White House in order to confirm the preferred judges of each party. After a year-long delay, the Senate confirmed her on August 11, 1992. While sitting on the district court, she faced mostly noncontroversial cases on topics ranging from drug smuggling to securities fraud. She gained fame as the judge who "saved" Major League Baseball with her strike-ending decision in Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, Inc. In another widely read decision, she supported the Wall Street Journal's right to print a controversial suicide note left by Clinton White House deputy counsel Vince Foster, despite his family's claim to privacy. Her majority opinion in Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group finding a copyright infringement on material from the television show Seinfeld became a standard for applying the fair use doctrine. In Tasini v. New York Times, Sotomayor ruled against freelance journalists claiming that the New York Times wrongfully published their material on the electronic database LexisNexis. This was her first decision reversed by the Supreme Court.

On another recommendation from Moynihan, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on June 25, 1997. Republicans were concerned she would become Clinton's first Supreme Court nominee and stalled her confirmation vote for over a year. However, with the help of Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican Senator from New York, she was confirmed by a 67-29-2 vote on October 2, 1998.

During her next decade on the Second Circuit, Sotomayor would hear more than 3000 cases and write about 380 majority opinions. Sotomayor showed herself to be moderate jurist who wrote sound opinions and was not afraid to speak her mind from the bench. Studies of her opinions found her leaning conservative in criminal cases and leaning liberal when dissenting. Her carefully worded, technical writing did not grab for media attention and helped her keep a low profile. However, the lawyers who argued before her knew her well, remembering vividly how she often confronted them sharply from the bench. Some of them used words like "bully," "nasty" and a "terror" to describe her.

She did not directly face hot-button issues such as abortion and gay rights, but did lay the groundwork for a turbulent confirmation process by writing three opinions that were later overturned by the Supreme Court. First, her overturned 2000 decision in Malesko v. Correctional Services Corporation overextended the ability of inmates in halfway houses to sue. Second, her 2007 decision in Riverkeeper Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency applied an environmental "best technology" rule in a manner more costly to power plant owners than the EPA intended. Her third-overturned decision, the 2008 affirmative action case Ricci v. DeStefano, proved most controversial. She supported the decision by the city of New Haven, Connecticut to reject a lawsuit filed by white firefighters claiming racial discrimination. The city had denied them promotions because there were no black firemen eligible for advancement along with them. Sotomayor supported the deferral of promotions in hopes of promoting a more racially diverse group, but the Supreme Court ruled that this violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

On the other hand, she also delivered opinions disagreeable to liberals. In Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, Sotomayor held that the Bush administration did not have to give aid to foreign organizations offering abortions. In another case, U.S. v. Falso, she favored government power over citizens' rights by using a generous application of the "good faith exception" to justify a police search lacking "probable cause." Her record as a judge certainly does not cast her as a package-deal liberal, but on several occasions she has indicated inclinations to both "judicial activism" and the "empathy" standard advocated by President Barack Obama. During her confirmation to the Second Circuit, Sotomayor testified that "judges must be extraordinarily sensitive to the impact of their decisions." She also calls Justice Benjamin Cardozo her judicial hero. In a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley, Sotomayor stated, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Although speculation about the Obama administration appointing Sotomayor began when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it was David Souter's prompt retirement in early 2009 that opened a slot. Amid expectations that President Obama would nominate a judge with a "common touch" and empathy, Sotomayor was quickly on the short list. He nominated Sotomayor on May 26, 2009 and she prepared for the confirmation process before a Senate dominated by Democrats. During confirmation hearings, she sturdily dismissed accusations of unbridled judicial activism and reaffirmed her devotion to the precepts of precedent and legal reasoning. In what Democrats called an "easy one," the Senate confirmed her on August 6, 2009 on a 68-31 vote divided mostly along party lines. Hispanics celebrated her appointment to the Supreme Court as a first, and the working-class crowd in the Bronx hailed the success of one of their own.

Sotomayor's ascent to success did not come from the empathy others showed her, but rather the tenacity and diligence she showed them. Her career as a judge, likewise, emphasized not empathy, but the ruggedness, personal sacrifice, and intellectual concentration that will make her an exciting new voice on the Supreme Court.

Personal Information
Friday, June 25, 1954

Roman Catholic

Puerto Rican

Juan Sotomayor

Father's Occupation
manual laborer

Celina Baez

Mother's Occupation
practical nurse

Family Status

Associate Justice


Commissioned on
Friday, August 7, 2009

Sworn In
Saturday, August 8, 2009

New York

source: .

message 3: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) She has a book coming out, looks like later this month!

My Beloved World
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor
The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself. She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-invention and self-discovery.

message 4: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Another book about Justice Sotomayor.

Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream
Sonia Sotomayor The True American Dream by Antonia Felix by Antonia Felix
The definitive biography of the first Latina and third woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court-from the national bestselling biographer of Condoleeza Rice and Laura Bush.

National bestselling biographer Antonia Felix delves behind the headlines to tell the compelling story of how the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants living in the South Bronx became one of the greatest legal minds in the country. With insight and thoughtful analysis, Felix explores the tenacity that makes Sotomayor a sharp, fearless judge; the sense of compassion that drives her to seek justice for the underprivileged; and her strong community ties, which never let her forget where she came from.

Drawing on candid interviews with figures from Sotomayor's personal and professional life-as well as speeches, interviews with Sotomayor, and published papers-Felix paints a revealing portrait of the woman who would come to meet President Obama's rigorous criteria for a Supreme Court justice and whose appointment would make history.

message 5: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 917 comments The memoir is amazingly open. She doesn't just discuss her career; she tells about her divorce and her struggle with diabetes.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Joined The Yankees' Rowdiest Fans During Starting Lineup

2012 - but she is a Yankees fan

Read more:

message 7: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Sonia Sotomayor: A Biography

Sonia Sotomayor A Biography by Meg Greene by Meg Greene (no photo)


"Sonia Sotomayor: A Biography" is an overview of Justice Sotomayor's life and career from her childhood to her ascent to the Supreme Court. It is also an early assessment of her performance on the court, her relationships with her colleagues, and the particular influence she is likely to exert on future decisions.

Sharing an inspirational, rags-to-riches story, the book begins with Sotomayor's childhood in an East Bronx housing project. It follows her to Princeton, where she was a student activist, and to Yale Law School. Equally important to an understanding of this influential judge is the discussion of her career as a prosecutor for the City of New York and as a judge in the District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit Court. Examining her reputation as a tough but fair jurist, the book explores the influence of these years which, at the time of her appointment, established her as the only Supreme Court justice with experience as a trial judge.

message 8: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Breaking In The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice by Joan Biskupic by Joan Biskupic Joan Biskupic


From a leading judicial biographer comes the untold story of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice

To become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor went against the odds. Her historic appointment in 2009—made by President Obama, whose own 2008 victory appeared improbable—flowed from cultural and political changes in America that helped lift up this daughter of a Puerto Rican nurse and a factory worker. Sotomayor saw opportunities and, with street smarts and savvy, she seized them. In Breaking In, journalist Joan Biskupic weaves a political narrative centered on Sotomayor’s fortuitous timing and personal striving. From housing projects in the Bronx to Princeton University and Yale Law School, Sotomayor’s life tracked the ascent of Latinos in America.

Along the way, she elicited admiration and, as a self-described “affirmative action baby,” resentment. At every step in her climb to the federal bench, she almost did not make it. As Biskupic reveals with extensive research and reporting, Sotomayor developed the connections to navigate a system known for ravaging nominees, especially when race or ethnicity was an element. Obtaining close access to Sotomayor and interviews with the other justices, Biskupic shows how Sotomayor challenges an institution where justices, as a group, have been relatively bland and socially conforming even as they differ radically on the law. In a book that picks up where Sotomayor’s bestselling memoir left off, Biskupic explores the difference this justice is making.

message 9: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Sonia Sotomayor: Mini Biography - January 30, 2016

Sonia Sotomayor, 2009. Stacy Ilyse Photography/ The White House

This is an interesting short biography on You Tube of Associate Justice Sotomayor briefly highlighting her childhood in the Bronx as well as her early legal and judicial career as the first Hispanic Federal judge in the New York State to her tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals to her appointment on the U.S Supreme Court.



Sonia Sotomayor The True American Dream by Antonia Felix by Antonia Felix (no photo)

Sonia Sotomayor by Brigid Gallagher by Brigid Gallagher (no photo)

Sonia Sotomayor by Sandra Shichtman by Sandra Shichtman (no photo)

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor (no photo)

Discussion Topics:

1. Why is it said that Justice Sotomayor is the embodiment of the American dream?

2. Discuss Justice Sotomayor's view that there is a definite interplay between the U.S. Constitution and government power.

message 10: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (last edited Aug 05, 2017 09:13AM) (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
8 things you didn’t know about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

By NORA DALY October 17, 2014

Of all the Supreme Court Justices, Sonia Sotomayor is arguably the most visible outside of the courtroom. Her journey from a Bronx housing project to the United States Supreme Court has been chronicled by many, including Sotomayor herself in her bestselling memoir, “My Beloved World.”

In spite of all that is known about Justice Sotomayor, judicial biographer and Reuters legal affairs editor Joan Biskupic believed there was more to discover. She discussed her new book, “Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice,” with PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill. Here are a few lesser known facts she helped uncover.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as his wife Jill Biden holds the family bible while family members look on at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington January 20, 2013. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

1. She helped Ruth Bader Ginsburg cope with her husband’s death

In the opening pages of “Breaking In,” Biskupic describes how Sotomayor shook up tradition at her first end-of-term party by asking the other justices to salsa dance with her.

In what Biskupic describes as the “most compelling” moment of this episode, Sotomayor approached Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose husband had passed away just three days prior, and asked her to dance. When Ginsburg initially refused, Sotomayor leaned in and whispered to her, “Marty would have wanted you to dance,” referring to Ginsburg’s late husband. After joining her on the dance floor briefly, Ginsburg placed her hands on Sotomayor’s cheeks and simply said, “Thank you.”

2. She was born the same year as Brown vs. Board of Education

Sotomayor has described herself as “the perfect affirmative action baby.” In April, when the court upheld an amendment to the Michigan state constitution banning racial affirmative action, she issued a 58-page long dissent (over three times as long as the opinion upholding the law), which made clear that she believes it is the court’s role to defend the civil rights of “historically marginalized groups.” It is fitting that she was born shortly after this landmark ruling in favor of educational equality.

3. She poked fun at Chief Justice John Roberts

In a 2007 opinion, Chief Justice Roberts famously wrote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” In her dissent in the Michigan ruling, Sotomayor turned Roberts’ words against him, writing: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.”

“She clearly was playing off of his view in a kind of mocking way,” Biskupic says, “and in fact, Chief Justice Roberts criticized Justice Sotomayor for doing that…he said that she was expounding policy preferences, but then he also said that he did not like the airing of personal strains.”

Sotomayor’s jab at Roberts revealed a personal disagreement, but Biskupic insists the dissent as a whole was rooted in Sotomayor’s professional opinion. “Most of it was based on her legal reasoning and what she thought of precedent. So she weaves in sentiment from personal experience, but it is all based in the law.”

4. She “leaned in” during the nomination process

In “Breaking In,” Biskupic points out that no judicial nomination moves “without some pushing and shoving,” and “minorities and women…faced greater resistance.” She reports that in 1991, when President George H. W. Bush nominated Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court, minorities accounted for only around 10 percent of federal judges, a mere 12 percent were female and, in the state of New York, there were no Hispanic federal judges.

Biskupic was surprised to learn how active Sotomayor was in pushing for her own nomination. “I didn’t know how much she had been an agent for herself,” Biskupic said, in discussing how Sotomayor worked, first with Democratic New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan to secure her nomination to the U.S. District Court, and later with Republican New York Sen. Al D’Amato, to ensure a Senate floor vote on her elevation to the Second Circuit. “She was accustomed to pushing overtly for what she wanted,” Biskupic writes in “Breaking In,” adding that “her confidence surprised Moynihan” when the two first met to discuss her nomination.

5. She wields influence behind the scenes

There have been many times, Biskupic says, when Sotomayor “has been willing to break off and write some solo dissents or concurring opinions that break from her liberal colleagues … It’s a variety of cases where she’ll go a little bit further to left.” However, in “Breaking In,” Biskupic tells of at least one instance where the justice agreed to compromise.

Prior to ruling on the Michigan state ban on affirmative action, the court heard another case that challenged the race-sensitive admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin. This case presented an even greater challenge to affirmative action by calling into question a precedent-setting ruling. In her book, Biskupic reveals that Sotomayor, greatly concerned about the way the Court appeared to be leaning, wrote a fiery dissent that was circulated privately among the justices, and ultimately led some of her more conservative colleagues to agree to a compromise.

“It all went on in secret,” Biskupic told NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill, “it was her work behind the scenes that…in effect, saved affirmative action for another day.”

Read the remainder of the article at:

Link to video:
Link to video:


Breaking in The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice by Joan Biskupic by Joan Biskupic Joan Biskupic

Source: PBS NewsHour

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Another wonderful add Lorna

message 12: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to share her story at Brown on Feb. 7

By BRIAN E. CLARK February 1, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will share her story at Brown on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will visit Brown University on Wednesday, Feb. 7, for an open-to-the-public conversation moderated by Brown President Christina Paxson.

Sotomayor’s visit comes 18 months after Brown’s incoming Class of 2020 students explored her journey from a Bronx housing project to her appointment as the first Hispanic and third woman on the nation’s highest court. Her “My Beloved World” memoir served as the text for the University’s First Readings program in 2016.

Paxson says Sotomayor’s visit will be particularly meaningful to those students, now sophomores at Brown, who participated in that year’s First Readings program. The program organized by the Office of the Dean of the College is an annual rite of passage for incoming students, who read a common text and explore it through programming in the first weeks of their initial semester on campus.

“Sonia Sotomayor’s success is not only testament to her resolute ambition, drive and intellect, but to the vital importance of role models, mentors and opportunities opened for historically underrepresented students,” Paxson said. “To hear her share her story in person is an ideal culmination of the Class of 2020’s First Readings experience, and it will undoubtedly inspire all of us at Brown.”

Sotomayor published “My Beloved World” in 2014, recounting with candor and intimacy her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench. In the book’s preface, she wrote that in speaking engagements since her appointment to the Supreme Court, questions and curiosity about her personal story continually surprised her.

“Underlying all these questions was a sense that my life’s story touches people because it resonates with
their own circumstances,” Sotomayor wrote. “The challenges I have faced — among them material poverty, chronic illness and being raised by a single mother — are not uncommon, but neither have they kept me from uncommon achievements.”

Sotomayor was born in the Bronx in 1954. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

She served as assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979 to 1984 and then litigated international commercial matters at Pavia & Harcourt, where was an associate and then partner from 1984 to 1992.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, where she served until 1998. She served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998 to 2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2009, a role she then assumed on August 8, 2009.

Link to article:


My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor (no photo)

Source: Brown University

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Lorna I really like that photo of her and the write up

message 14: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Kagan, Sotomayor say Supreme Court must steer clear of politics to protect legitimacy

By OLIVIA GAZIS October 5, 2018

On the eve of a Senate vote likely to result in the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, two of the three sitting female justices said the court must guard its own reputation for being impartial, neutral and fair. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor shared concerns that widespread polarization in the country's political environment could affect public perceptions of the court's legitimacy.

Speaking at a question-and-answer session during a conference at Princeton University dedicated to celebrating women, Kagan and Sotomayor did not directly address the prospect of Kavanaugh's confirmation but said there was value to maintaining a "middle position" on the court's bench.

"This is a really divided time," Kagan said. "Part of the court's strength and part of the court's legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court the way they see the rest of the governing structures of the country now."

Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (R), Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S., recieve applause during Princeton University's "She Roars: Celebrating Women at Princeton" conference in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., October 5, 2018. DOMINICK REUTER / REUTERS

Their pre-scheduled appearance at the "She Roars" conference came just hours after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Virginia, announced they would support Kavanaugh's nomination. The full Senate is expected to hold the final vote on Saturday.

"We have to rise above partisanship in our personal relationships," Justice Sotomayor said. "We have to treat each other with respect and dignity and with a sense of amicability that the rest of the world doesn't often share."

Sotomayor said she sought out "the good" in her colleagues and that the court's members had a practice of maintaining collegial relationships even in times of disagreement. "If you start from the proposition that there's something good in everyone it's a lot easier to get along with them," she said.

"It's just the nine of us," Kagan added. "We all have a vested interest in having good relations with one another."

The two justices, both Princeton graduates, were interviewed before an audience of more than 3,000 by another alumna, Heather Gerken, who currently serves as the Dean of Kavanaugh's alma mater, Yale Law School. Though she did not raise the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh on Friday, Gerken had previously said in a statement she shared the "deep concern" of other Yale faculty members about his nomination.

The justices, both of whom were appointed to the court by former President Obama, also discussed their experiences as female trailblazers in their own fields and at Princeton, which first began accepting women undergraduates in 1969.

"You can't be a professional woman, even today, whether it's in law, in medicine, in any field, without having a moment where someone is going to treat you differently because you're a woman," Sotomayor, who graduated from Princeton in 1976, said.

Both justices dismissed the notion that they were interrupted more frequently than their male colleagues on the basis of their gender, as a recent study suggested.

"I don't feel that on the bench," Kagan said, adding that the statistics informing the study are more likely due to the fact that she and Sotomayor are relatively junior justices.

Kagan insisted that she, Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "ask a lot of questions" and give lawyers "a good run for their money."

"None of us are shrinking violets," she said.


Sonia Sotomayor The True American Dream by Antonia Felix by Antonia Felix (no photo)

Source: CBS News

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
I liked her a great deal at the beginning but I find that in some recent interviews - she seems to have some sharp edges and defends some of the justices that I am surprised that she is openly defending when in fact nobody was mentioning them in the interviews. I found that odd. But she is still needed desperately on the court and seems to be protecting what needs protecting with an even and temperate hand.

message 16: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Justice Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing special favors for the Trump administration

The ordinary rules no longer apply when the Trump administration shows up in court.

By IAN MILLHISER February 20, 2020

Sonia Sotomayor, 2009. Stacy Ilyse Photography/ The White House

The Supreme Court voted along ideological lines Friday evening to allow a Trump administration rule restricting low-income immigrants’ ability to enter the US to take full effect. All four of the Court’s Democratic appointees dissented, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing a sharply worded dissenting opinion accusing her Court of “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the Trump administration.

“It is hard to say what is more troubling,” Sotomayor wrote. “That the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

The Court’s decision in Wolf v. Cook County is a significant development in and of itself because of its potential impact on millions of immigrants. Last August, the Trump administration announced a new rule governing who would be classified as a “public charge” — essentially someone reliant on government aid programs — and thus potentially unable to enter the United States, extend their visa, or obtain a green card. The new rule gives immigration officials leeway to turn away immigrants deemed “likely to be a public charge,” based on a wide range of factors including use of certain public benefits and English language skills.

As much as 69 percent of the more than 5 million individuals who received a green card over the past five years have at least one negative factor against them under the new rule, and thus might have been denied immigration benefits had the new rule been in effect.

Sotomayor is concerned the Supreme Court is granting too many stays — and for good reason

Sotomayor’s dissent focuses less on the question of whether the Trump administration's public charge rule is legal, and more on what she describes as a “now-familiar pattern” in the administration’s interactions with the Supreme Court.

At least two lower courts handed down orders blocking the new public charge rule — one of those decisions blocked the rule across the country, while the other blocked it only in Illinois. Last month, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 along familiar partisan lines to stay the lower court order blocking the rule on a nationwide basis. Friday’s order stays the decision blocking it in Illinois.

Until recently, it was extraordinarily unusual for the government to seek such a stay from the justices while a case was still winding its way through lower courts. As Sotomayor warned in a dissenting opinion last September, “granting a stay pending appeal should be an ‘extraordinary’ act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal.”

According to a recent paper by University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, “in less than three years, [Trump’s] Solicitor General has filed at least twenty-one applications for stays in the Supreme Court (including ten during the October 2018 Term alone)” — and Vladeck’s paper did not include the Trump administration's two applications in the public charge cases. By comparison, “during the sixteen years of the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations, the Solicitor General filed a total of eight such applications — averaging one every other Term.”

The Trump administration, moreover, has a high win rate when it seeks extraordinary relief from the Supreme Court. It’s achieved a partial or full victory in about 65 percent of the cases where it asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block a lower court’s opinion.

As Sotomayor explains in her Wolf opinion, it is very unusual for the Supreme Court to grant such relief so easily.

Because the Supreme Court is the final word on nearly all questions of federal law, it typically likes to let novel legal issues percolate in the lower courts before handing down a final command. “Stay applications force the Court to consider important statutory and constitutional questions that have not been ventilated fully in the lower courts, on abbreviated timetables and without oral argument,” Sotomayor writes in her Wolf dissent. They also “upend the normal appellate process, putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won a stay.”

And in this Supreme Court, that party is almost always the Trump administration.

The Supreme Court’s stay decisions weaken safeguards built into the court system

There is a simple reason the justices ordinarily like to wait to decide novel legal questions. If a lower court gets a decision wrong, the same issue is likely to come before other judges who may reach the correct conclusion. As these decisions proliferate, they provide more and more guidance to other judges and, ultimately, to the justices themselves.

When the justices take their time, in other words, they are able to benefit from the wisdom of many judges — and they are more likely to decide a case correctly. When the justices rush, by contrast, they short-circuit this entire process. And because the Supreme Court is the highest legal authority in the country, an error by the justices is much harder to correct than an error by a lower court.

Sotomayor’s opinion is a warning that the Supreme Court’s Republican majority appears to care more about bailing out the Trump administration than it does careful deliberation that ensures the law is read properly. It’s also a warning that the Supreme Court appears to be bending the rules for Trump and Trump alone. As Sotomayor writes, “the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others.”

Link to article:


Breaking in The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice by Joan Biskupic by Joan Biskupic Joan Biskupic

Source: Vox

message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Supreme Court blocks Trump from ending DACA in big win for Dreamers

Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 decision, dealing a big legal defeat to President Trump on the issue of immigration.

By Pete Williams and Adam Edelman

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration cannot carry out its plan to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S.

Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 decision, which deals a big legal defeat to President Donald Trump on the issue of immigration, a major focus of his domestic agenda.

Roberts wrote in the decision that the government failed to give an adequate justification for ending the federal program. The administration could again try to shut it down by offering a more detailed explanation for its action, but the White House might not want to end such a popular program in the heat of a presidential campaign.

Remainder of article and video:

Source: NBC News

message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
DACA Supreme Court opinion:


Source: Supreme Court Opinions

message 19: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Supreme Court Rules Against Trump Administration In DACA Case

By NINA TOTENBURG June 18, 2020

Demonstrators arrive in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during a march in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Nov. 10. Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

A narrowly divided Supreme Court extended Thursday a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called DREAMers, allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.

The vote was 5-to-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive fifth vote that sought to bridge the liberal and conservative wings of the court.

Roberts and the court's four liberal justices said the Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.

In his opinion, Roberts wrote: "The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew."

Begun in 2012, the DACA program gave temporary protection from deportation to qualified individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Under the program, the DREAMers were allowed to work legally and apply for college loans if they met certain requirements and passed a background check.

President Trump sought to end the program shortly after he took office, maintaining that it was illegal and unconstitutional from the start.

But he was blocked by the lower courts and appealed to the Supreme Court, where Thursday the justices divided over both substance and timing.

The muddled state of play likely prevents the administration from enacting any plans to begin deportations immediately, but there is little doubt that should President Trump be reelected, the second-term president almost certainly would seek to end the program.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, wrote: "Today's decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision."

The court's decision presents a particularly delicate political problem for congressional Republicans just four months before the national election in November.

DACA has been an enormously popular program, with public opinion polls showing widespread support for it among Democrats, independents and Republicans.

DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90% have jobs. Indeed, 29,000 are health care professionals, working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

So popular has the DACA program been that the Senate Republican leadership not once, but twice, worked closely with Democrats to work out a deal to protect the Dreamers, only to have Trump renege at the last moment.

What Trump will do before the November election is anyone's guess. The heart of his political base is opposed to immigration in just about every form. But this is no ordinary time.

Amid pandemic and racial crisis, the court's ruling is likely to focus on yet another issue where the president is at odds with public sentiment, while at the same time putting Republican officeholders between the rock of their president's views, and the hard place of their own reelection bids.

Link to article:
Link to DACA Decision:


Just Like Us The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe by Helen Thorpe Helen Thorpe

Source: NPR News

message 20: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Supreme Court Expands Religious-School Exemption From Civil-Rights Laws

Ruling is latest in a series of decisions elevating the role of religious exercise and sectarian institutions in American society

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

By JESS BRAVIN July 8, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Wednesday expanded religious schools’ exemption from civil-rights laws, the latest in a series of decisions elevating the role of religious exercise and sectarian institutions in American society.

The court, by a 7-2 vote, ruled that the First Amendment’s religion clauses immunize the schools from discrimination claims filed by teachers alleging they were fired because of age or disability. As religious institutions, the court found, the schools cannot be second-guessed by judges or juries regarding dismissal of teachers who help propagate the church’s beliefs.

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court. “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the opinion.

The court’s two most liberal members dissented.

“Two employers fired their employees allegedly because one had breast cancer and the other was elderly,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She challenged the majority’s view that “because the employees taught short religion modules at Catholic elementary schools, they were ‘ministers’ of the Catholic faith and thus could be fired for any reason, whether religious or nonreligious, benign or bigoted, without legal recourse.”

Federal courts long have recognized a “ministerial exception” to antidiscrimination laws, reasoning that religious-freedom rights bar the government from a role in selecting members of the clergy, even indirectly by allowing private lawsuits over practices that are illegal in other workplaces.

In 2012, the Supreme Court itself recognized the ministerial exception, and found that it applied to a teacher at a Lutheran school who had received religious training and been granted the title “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” The unanimous decision meant the teacher couldn’t file a discrimination claim.

The new ruling expands that principle to lay teachers who perform “important religious functions,” such as parochial-school teachers who provide instruction in the Catholic religion alongside other subjects.

This 2009 photo provided by the Biel family, shows the late Kristen Biel, at her graduation party, with her husband Darryl Biel and their two children, Dylan and Delaney.

“What matters, at bottom, is what an employee does,” Justice Alito wrote, not the formal title she carries. “In a country with the religious diversity of the United States, judges cannot be expected to have a complete understanding and appreciation of the role played by every person who performs a particular role in every religious tradition. A religious institution’s explanation of the role of such employees in the life of the religion in question is important.”

The decision involves separate lawsuits by teachers alleging disability or age discrimination by parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In one case, St. James School in Torrance, Calif., declined to renew teacher Kristen Biel’s contract after she told superiors she had contracted breast cancer and required time off for treatment. She died in 2019 and her widower continued the lawsuit.

The other case was filed by Agnes Morrissey-Berru, whose contract wasn’t renewed by Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Hermosa Beach, Calif., after she entered her 60s.

“Both their schools expressly saw them as playing a vital part in carrying out the mission of the church, and the schools’ definition and explanation of their roles is important,” Justice Alito wrote.

The decision is the second victory for religious schools as the high court’s term winds down. Last week, the court, voting 5-4 along conservative-liberal lines, held that a state tax-credit program for private schools must be opened to religious schools, despite a state constitution provision barring public support for church schools.

Link to article:


Uncertain Justice The Roberts Court and the Constitution by Laurence H. Tribe by Laurence H. Tribe (no photo)

Source: The Wall Street Journal

message 21: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Supreme Court says Trump can weaken Obamacare contraceptive mandate

By ARIANE DE VOGUE July 8, 2020

The Supreme Court in Washington. | Mark Tenally/AP

(CNN) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have religious or moral objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.

The 7-2 ruling reverses a lower court decision that had blocked Trump's move nationwide.

The ruling is a win for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to act aggressively to protect what he and other conservatives frame as religious liberty, as well as for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious order for women who, along with the Trump administration, asked the court to step in.

It came the same day the court also sided with religious schools in a different case, ruling that teachers at religious institutions aren't covered by employment discrimination laws.

The Little Sisters case required the justices to balance concerns for women's health care against claims of religious liberty. The law requires that employer-provided health insurance plans cover birth control as a preventive service at no cost.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, wrote that the justices held that the government "had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption." He was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Thomas commended the Little Sisters of the Poor for their efforts.

"For the past seven years, they -- like many other religious
objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today's decision -- have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs," he wrote.

Thomas continued, "After two decisions from this Court and multiple failed regulatory attempts, the Federal Government has arrived at a solution that exempts the Little Sisters from the source of their complicity-based concerns -- the administratively imposed contraceptive mandate."

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed with the court's judgment but under different rationale. They said that the Trump administration had the authority to issue a rule expanding exemptions from the contraceptive mandate, but suggested that a lower court might still find that the government's rule was "arbitrary and capricious."

"That issue remains open for the lower courts to address," Breyer wrote.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the Court's opinion, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree," Ginsburg wrote.

"This Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer's insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets," she said and noted that the government had acknowledged that the rules would cause thousands of women to lose coverage.

The dispute -- the latest concerning the Affordable Care Act to come before the justices -- pit supporters of the contraceptive provision against those who said it violated their religious and moral beliefs.

Churches and some other religious entities could get an exemption and others such as religious universities, hospitals or charities with religious objections get an accommodation. The accommodation means that plan participants could still receive the coverage, but it would be paid for by the insurer or employer's health insurance administrator.

Over 61.4 million women in the US have birth control coverage with zero out-of-pocket costs, according the National Women's Law Center.

After Trump took office, the government moved in 2017 to allow exemptions for more employers.

Under the religious exception rule, any private employer, including publicly traded corporations, could receive exemptions based on a "sincerely held religious belief." A second rule extends the same provision to organizations and small businesses that have objections "on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief."

By the government's own estimate, between 75,000 to 125,000 women would lose coverage. At oral arguments held over the phone because of the coronavirus, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- participating from a hospital bed because of a gall bladder condition -- lambasted the government's position, arguing it would leave women "to hunt for other government programs that might cover them."

Pennsylvania and other states challenged the federal government move in court, arguing in part that they would have to step in and provide coverage for women seeking coverage.

A federal appeals court blocked the rules nationwide, holding that the states would suffer irreparable harm and "unredressable financial consequences" from subsidizing contraceptive services and "providing funds for medical care associated with unintended pregnancies." The court said that the states' financial injury "outweighs any purported injury to religious exercise."

The Trump administration and the Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court.

Link to remainder of article:
Link to videotape:


Landmark The Inside Story of America's New Health-Care Law-The Affordable Care Act-and What It Means for Us All by The Washington Post by The Washington Post (no photo)

Source: CNN

message 22: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Daniel Lewis Lee executed after Supreme Court clears the way for first federal execution in 17 years


In this Oct. 31 1997, photo, Daniel Lewis Lee waits for his arraignment hearing for murder in the Pope County Detention Center in Russellville, Ark.

(CNN)Daniel Lewis Lee, a convicted killer, was executed Tuesday morning in the first federal execution in 17 years after the Supreme Court issued an overnight ruling that it could proceed.

Lee was pronounced dead by the coroner at 8:07 a.m. ET in Terrre Haute, Indiana. His last words were "I didn't do it. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life but I'm not a murderer. You're killing an innocent man," according to a pool report.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the resumption of the federal death penalty in an unsigned order released after 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.

The court wiped away a lower court order temporarily blocking the execution of Lee in a 5-4 vote.

Lee, a one-time white supremacist who killed a family of three, was scheduled to be executed Monday. A federal judge blocked the planned execution of Lee, and three others, citing ongoing challenges to the federal government's lethal injection protocol.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday refused the Justice Department's request to stay the injunction. The Justice Department had appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the court's ruling.

The Supreme Court said that the death row inmates, including Lee, bringing the case "have not established that they are likely to succeed" in their challenge in part because the one drug protocol proposed by the government -- single dose pentobarbital -- has become a 'mainstay' of state executions."

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reiterated in one dissent something he has said before: he thinks it's time for the court to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty.

"The resumption of federal executions promises to provide examples that illustrate the difficulties of administering the death penalty consistent with the Constitution," he said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ginsburg, wrote separately to criticize the court's "accelerated decision making "

"The court forever deprives respondents of their ability to press a constitutional challenge to their lethal injections," she said.

Three other appeals seeking to delay the execution are also pending at the Supreme Court. One concerns the family of Lee's victims who are concerned about traveling and going to a federal prison during the coronavirus pandemic. A second regards evidence presented by prosecutors during his sentencing hearing.

In 2019, Attorney General William Barr moved to reinstate the federal death penalty after a nearly two decade lapse.

Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to move forward with executions of some "death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly." The scheduled executions reignited legal challenges to the specific protocol used in executions and reinvigorated a debate concerning the constitutionality of lethal injection.

Earlene Peterson -- whose daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law were tortured, killed and dumped in a lake by Lee and an accomplice -- has opposed Lee's execution, telling CNN last year that she did not want it done in her name.


Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson by Bryan Stevenson Bryan Stevenson

Source: CNN

back to top