CONTENTIONS contributor Linda Chavez has testified in opposition. Her complete testimony is here. Unfortunately, these witnesses get an abbreviated time to provide only the gist of their remarks. Linda’s are worth reading in full. In particular, she debunks Sotomayor’s quite misleading spin on Ricci:
As you know, the Supreme Court reversed Judge Sotomayor and ruled 5-4 in favor of the firefighters. Even the dissenting justices did not endorse the approach taken by the lower courts, which dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims without a full hearing. What’s more, President Obama’s own legal experts thought that the Second Circuit’s decision was wrong, in light of the evidence that the city’s actions were motivated, not by any real legal concerns, but by nothing but racial politics. So the Justice Department’s brief also urged that Judge Sotomayor’s decision be reversed and sent back for more work.
Furthermore, the attempt by Judge Sotomayor’s panel to sweep the case under the rug—first with a summary order, and then withdrawing that and issuing a terse per curiam opinion which did not even mention the plaintiffs’ equal-protection claims—was unconscionable. Such dispositions are typically limited to cases that raise unimportant or well-settled matters; the New Haven case was neither. After all, it prompted, sua sponte, an impassioned protest from other Second Circuit judges (led by another Democratic appointee, Jose Cabranes), and was granted review by the Supreme Court, which happens in only a tiny percentage of cases the Court sees.
Yes, that’s right — the Obama-Holder Justice Department couldn’t bring themselves to urge Sotomayor’s decision be affirmed. While several senators meandered around the circumstances of her cursory treatment of the firefighter’s claims (Sessions did so in the third and final round), none really got to the nub of the matter: this was a violation of court rules which provide for a per curium opinion when the issue does not raise complex issues. This did.
While never adequately pinned down by the senators, Sotomayor never provided a full explanation for why she gave the back-of-the-hand to a case so obviously fraught with serious issues. Didn’t Ricci, Vargas, and the other parties deserve better?