Supreme Court Nominations
Law Prof Backing Sotomayor Offers Explanation for Short Ricci Opinion
Posted Jul 8, 2009 1:54 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
New York University law professor Arthur Miller has offered a possible explanation for a controversial short opinion joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor in which the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the city of New Haven, Conn., to throw out a fire department promotional exam because no blacks got top scores.
The short opinion by the New York-based appeals court in Ricci v. DeStefano may have been part of an effort to achieve consensus in the case, Miller said in a conference call covered by SCOTUSblog. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 2nd Circuit in an opinion last month.
In such a difficult case, the three-judge panel could likely achieve a unanimous result by avoiding elaborate language, Miller said. The New York Times had called the opinion in the reverse bias case “remarkably cursory.”
Miller participated in a conference call organized by law professors who are backing Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court. Miller has joined with 1,179 professors from 49 states in signing a letter (PDF) urging a speedy confirmation.
Other profs signing the letter include Daniel Richman, Stephen Carter, Edwin Chemerinsky, John Coffee Jr., Pamela Karlan, Laurence Tribe, Charles Ogletree and Peter Schuck, according to a press release e-mailed to the ABA Journal.
“Judge Sotomayor will bring to the Supreme Court an extraordinary personal story, academic qualifications, remarkable professional accomplishments and much needed ethnic and gender diversity,” the letter says. “We are confident that Judge Sotomayor’s intelligence, her character forged by her extraordinary background and experience, and her profound respect for the law and the craft of judging make her an exceptionally well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court.”
Law professors participating in the conference call said they found Sotomayor to be moderate and pragmatic in her decisions as a judge, according to the SCOTUSblog account.