Bench Memos

More Sotomayor Fact Checking

In answering a question about bias, Sotomayor said words to the effect of “Most of my cases if not all of them explain why the law requires what it does.”  Well, “most” cases must be quite selective.  Did she really explain why the law requires that a statute restricting weapons possession does not implicate a fundamental right?  No, as I explained at length here, she cursorily stated her erroneous conclusion in a scant 11 words, with no explanation, and no analysis.  Similarly, in Ricci, she issued a summary opinion affirming the district court’s decision without any explanation.  As Judge Cabranes has argued, Sotomayor’s panel’s “perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal” and emphasized that in cases “[w]here significant questions of unsettled law are raised on appeal, however, a failure to address those questions-or even recognize their existence-should not be the approved modus operandi of the U.S. Court of Appeals.”  But regrettably, it does seem to have been Judge Sotomayor’s modus operandi.

Robert Alt is the president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute.