The Corner

The Limits of Sotomayorian Empathy

I was interested to see that Sonia Sotomayor was the judge in the New York Times v. Tasini case, a case close to my heart. The authors of various freelance contributions to the Times sued over the paper’s subsequent licensing of their writing to electronic databases that then re-sold the pieces to customers for $3.95 per. It was a fairly obvious breach of the 1976 Copyright Act, as well as of the more basic principle that rights not specifically assigned remain with the owner.

Judge Sotomayor cheerfully sided with the Times, a ruling that (as appears to be not uncommon with this jurist) was subsequently overturned at the Supreme Court — 7-2 (with David Souter being among the seven). Despite being a “wise Latina” enjoying all the benefits of “the richness of her experiences,” she was sadly unable to empathize with the impoverished writers in their garrets eking out a thin crust from their freelance contributions to the appallingly low-paying Sulzberger GloboCorp Inc.

As I learned during my battles with Canada’s “human rights” commissions, almost all “diversity” issues have a “property rights” component. I don’t think Justice Sotomayor will be any great friend of the latter. And, alas, there will now be no David Souter to overturn her decisions.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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