Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Justice Sotomayor Makes a Difference!

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
has written her first opinion for the Supreme Court -- and she already has made a difference.  As the N.Y. Times observed, "Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term `undocumented immigrant,' according to a legal database [in a Supreme Court opinion].The term 'llegal immigrant' has appeared in a dozen decisions."  The decision in the Mohawk Industries case involved a technical legal issue that only civil procedure professors could love -- whether an interlocutory order on an attorney-client privilege matter could be appealed immediately or must await a final judgment on the case -- in a case involving a business that allegedly employed undocumented immigrants.  Click here for details.

As Bill Hing has previously posted on ImmigrationProf, and I have written on Concurring Opinions, the choice of terminology -- aliens. illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, people -- matters in the discourse over immigration.  Consequently, by employing a more neutral term, Justice Sotomayor has added significantly to the Supreme Court's dialogue on immigration, which is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future.


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