Sotomayor’s First Term

By Maria Echaveste, The Washington Post

In light of the right-wing hysteria that a Justice Sonia Sotomayor would inappropriately focus the Supreme Court's attention on minority, gender and social justice issues, some will be looking to see Sotomayor make rookie mistakes. They will surely be disappointed. With her 17 years of judicial experience, it's more likely that the new justice will be thoughtful, careful and measured. Yet given the cases already argued and those on deck -- the Hillary Clinton infomercial case on campaign finance and the Chicago gun control case in particular -- we may see soon whether court dynamics have been changed by the addition of this New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage. It may be that Chief Justice John G. Roberts will seek her support on major cases in hopes of reducing the stark division heretofore exhibited on the court. This may result in more moderate decisions than might otherwise have emerged. As the Republicans who voted against her were acutely aware, this is the court that actually makes law by applying the law, provided you get at least five votes, and still better if you get six. 10/5/2009