Sotomayor will bring strengths

As the Senate drew nearer to considering the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, a Columbia Law School professor jumped in with a letter signed by 1,181 law professors from across the country — including two each from Washburn University and University of Kansas law faculties — urging her confirmation.
The letter was sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The key paragraph reads: “Judge Sotomayor will bring to the Supreme Court an extraordinary personal story, academic qualifications, remarkable professional accomplishments and much needed ethnic and gender diversity. We are confident that Judge Sotomayor’s intelligence, her character forged by her extraordinary background and experience, and her profound respect for the law and the craft of judging make her an exceptionally well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court and we urge her speedy confirmation.”
As the debate begins, supporters will stress her professional accomplishments. Opponents will worry that she will allow her social and cultural values to color her legal judgments.
Unless some unexpected skeleton is found in her closet, her confirmation seems assured. Sotomayor is both female and Hispanic. She will win support from members of both parties who believe the court should have more women in its ranks. Senators from such states as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada will be strongly pressed to put a Hispanic on the court, regardless of their party affiliation.
Finally, as the unprecedented support from so many law professors demonstrates, those who think that accomplishments as a lawyer and as a judge should be a strong argument for confirmation will vote for her because she has such an outstanding record in the profession.

SEN. BROWNBACK of Kansas indicated some weeks ago that he plans to vote against her because he worries about her prejudices in favor of women, of the poor and disadvantaged and of Hispanics.
Her critics rightly assume that her life experiences have given her a different way of looking at things. All of us, including Sen. B., are shaped by the lives we have led. Because this is true, the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States should be as representative as possible of our enormously diverse population.
Sotomayor would broaden the court’s perspective in at least three significant ways: She grew up poor in the projects of New York City; she is Hispanic, the fastest growing minority in the country, and she is a she.
Justice Sotomayor promises to become a prominent member of our nation’s highest court.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.