Sotomayor And Race: Read Her Opinions

Is she or isn't she?  Wouldn't it be great if Judge Sonia Sotomayor had a decades-long paper trail detailing, in minute detail, her views on race, affirmative action, fairness and discrimination? If we did -- if we knew how she acted on her beliefs in past, we might be able to predict how she'd act on them in the future. Right?


Turns out that race comes up fairly frequently in legal proceedings adjudicated by United States courts of appeals. Sotomayor participated in 100 such cases.

Tom Goldstein decided to read them all to see whether Sotomayor was likely to be sympathetic to claims of racial discrimination. After 50 cases, here's his interim report:

In those 50 cases, the panel accepted the claim of race discrimination only three times.  In all three cases, the panel was unanimous; in all three, it included a Republican appointee.  In roughly 45, the claim was rejected.  (Two were procedural dispositions.)

On the other hand, she twice was on panels reversing district court decisions agreeing with race-related claims - i.e., reversing a finding of impermissible race-based decisions.  Both were criminal cases involving jury selection.

In other words: her decisions -- her actions -- are fairly convincing evidence that she does not have a penchant for ... well, it's not clear what the accusation is -- penchant for racially-based decisions? -- I'm not sure. Her views -- as expressed through her actions and writings -- are conventional.