What Black Leaders Think About Sotomayor
President Obama considers Judge Sonia Sotomayor a solid choice for the Supreme Court panel, and the GOP is up in arms about his pick. But what does the black intelligentsia have to say about this controversial and experienced legal mind and her potential impact on U.S. law? The Root caught up with a few of our brightest minds.
Rodney G. MoorePresident, National Bar Association
Like most folks, I would have loved to have seen an African-American nominee who could correct the historic wrong that occurred with the appointment of Clarence Thomas. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court is a classic example of a white male boys club, and there are many worthy groups that should have representation on the court. So I am excited that the Hispanic community has a nominee.
Lani GuinierThe Bennett Boskey Professor at Harvard Law School
Sonia Sotomayor, like President Obama, has a compelling and distinctly American story. To the Supreme Court she will bring grit and grace; intellect and inspiration. As only the fourth woman ever to be nominated to the court, her ascension will embolden girls of all colors toward bigger and bolder aspirations.
I still recall, at the age of 12, watching a dignified black woman—Constance Baker Motley, attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund—escort James Meredith through a jeering white mob in 1962 ... I remember [thinking], I want to be like her when I grow up.
-- from the New York Times
Ben JealousChairman of the NAACP
Judge Sotomayor is an outstanding legal choice, one of the most brilliant legal minds in our nation's judiciary ... She has been praised by both conservative and liberal justices for her impeccable credentials and outstanding grasp of the law.
Her powerful life story—from the public housing projects of the South Bronx to the halls of Princeton and Yale—allows her to understand the reality of all Americans from diverse backgrounds ... Judge Sotomayor will faithfully uphold our constitution's commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, two crucial underpinnings of our democracy.
I have known about [Sotomayor] for years, some of my students are her law clerks, and she is the most experienced judge to be nominated for the court for a long time. She brings a wealth of experience with her as a lawyer who has argued cases in a courtroom, as a judge who's presided over cases in a courtroom and as the author of hundreds of opinions on every area of law, from different regulatory matters to civil and criminal justice issues.
It's absolutely rare to have somebody with this kind of comprehensive, flexible legal experience.
Barrington ParkerColleague from 2nd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals
We were very close friends when we came on the court; we've been friends for 20-25 years—and she's just terrific. She's super smart, super prepared. And this talk of her decisions being overturned is silly ... She's heard thousands of appeals, written 300 appellate decisions—and 90 percent of them are just not controversial...
It's partially a judicial appointment and partially a political one, and Obama has a constituency that he's concerned about. But the personal story is remarkable, and the judicial record speaks for itself. You want to know how she thinks? Read her opinions.
Sherrilyn A. IfillCivil Rights Lawyer and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law
As regular contributor to The Root, Sherrilyn A. Ifill has taken a comprehensive look at what Judge Sonia Sotomayor's appointment would mean for the Supreme Court. Read her contributions to this heated discussion and decide what you think of our potential Supreme Court justice.
SHERRILYN A. IFILL: Should Blacks Be Disappointed About Sotomayor?
SHERRILYN A. IFILL: The Judge They Feared