he Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in a New Haven firefighter reverse-discrimination case is a big deal in itself, said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial, but its “legal import” has “taken a back seat” to commentary on what the case, Ricci v. DeStefano, reveals about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose appeals court ruling it overturned. It doesn’t reveal much. If Sotomayor was wrong, “she was in good company”—two lower courts and four justices.
Sotomayor was wrong, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, both about the merits of the case and in her three-judge panel’s curt dismissal of the white firefighters’ discrimination claims—all nine justices agreed about her “mishandling” of the case. After her infamous “wise Latina” comment, Sotomayor’s “dismissive treatment” of the white plaintiffs “reinforces concerns that she is prone to race-conscious jurisprudence.”
Not really, said Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times. Sotomayor and her colleagues relied on “settled precedent” on job discrimination; the five-justice majority in Ricci created a new precedent with their ruling Monday. In other words, Sotomayor “played by the old rules, and the court changed them.” That’s not judicial activism on her part.
The “bottom line,” said Jonathan Adler in The Volokh Conspiracy, is that Ricci “reinforces the argument that Sotomayor is a mainstream liberal nominee”—in line with the four liberal Supreme Court justices, including David Souter, who she’s tapped to replace. Even if her handling of the case “reflects poorly on her judgment,” it is “(almost) inconceivable” that she won’t be confirmed.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Antonin Scalia was right to defend a drug dealer
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why we need a maximum wage
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
Subscribe to the Week