Monday, December 27, 2010

Sotomayor and Kagan as Newsworthy

Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are newsworthy subjects in these waning days of 2010, and not only because they are half of the number of women who have ever served on the United States Supreme Court (as pictured below).

800px-O'Connor,_Sotomayor,_Ginsburg,_and_Kagan However, while Kagan as the newest Justice is still being personally profiled, Sotomayor's judicial actions are being analyzed.

Nina Totenberg of NPR's Morning Edition had an discussion of Kagan's first months on the Court: although Kagan "has not written any opinions that have yet seen the light of day," she "already has big fans among her colleagues, from the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia to the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg."  And, Kagan herself is now "relaxed and so able to be herself," because she is "no longer calculating the personal odds of advancement."   The 7 minute story is here; and it quotes from the C-SPAN interview with Kagan from earlier in December here.

Meanwhile, Joan Biskupic at USA TODAY and Adam Liptak at NYT are discussing Sotomayor as evinced by her dissents from denials of certiorari.  Both Biskupic and Liptak highlight Pitre v. Cain, a prisoner's case, which we discussed here profiling a Linda Greenhouse opinion piece.  Biskupic's article describes Sotomayor's "fervent statements protesting the majority's refusal to take some appeals, particularly involving prisoners."

Biskupic and Liptak discuss the seven cases in which there are dissents from denials of certiorari.  Biskupic profiles each case in which Justices dissented from the denials of certiorari, noting that while Sotomayor has been the most frequent dissenter, Justice Alito "has been a close second this term in publicly objecting when the majority declines a case. He protested in three cases and authored the opinion in two. On criminal matters, he tends to favor law enforcement." 

Liptak phrases it this way: "Not a single member of the court’s four-member liberal wing joined any of the three opinions written by a conservative justice. And not a single member of the court’s four-member conservative wing joined any of the four opinions written by a liberal justice."

Both Liptak and Biskupic also discuss Sotomayor's argument style: assertive.

RR

(image: from left to right, former Justice O'Connor, Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan, in 2010, via)

 

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