Nina Totenberg of NPR wins great respect as a reporter on the Supreme Court for a reason: She’s a great reporter.
As a judge, Sotomayor has ruled in 100 cases that involve questions of racial discrimination of one sort or another. Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court advocate and founder of the leading Supreme Court blog, has read all of those decisions. He says that Sotomayor does not seem to put her thumb on the scale and has in fact, most of the time, ruled against those charging discrimination.
In only 1 of out 8 cases, he says, has she favored in some sense claims of discrimination.
“The fact that she so rarely upholds discrimination claims I think answers the idea that she is always angling for minorities,” he says.
And if the New Haven case is a harbinger in one direction, there are other cases that point the other way too. Sotomayor, for example, dissented when her colleagues allowed the New York City Police Department to fire one of its officers for sending hate mail on his own time. While the hate mail was patently offensive, hateful and insulting, Sotomayor wrote, it did not interfere with the operations of the police department, and, she observed, under our Constitution, even a white bigot has the right to speak his mind.
In another case involving a black couple bumped from an American Airlines international flight, Sotomayor said their race discrimination claim was clearly trumped by an international treaty governing airline rules. It matters not, she said, that her ruling might mean airlines could discriminate on a wholesale basis and that there would be no legal recourse. The treaty’s language is clear and it is not for the courts to make policy, she said, adding that if policy is to be changed, Congress or federal agencies must do it.
White bigots ought to study more and flap less.