The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

How Sotomayor tried to hide the Ricci case from her peers.

Posted by iusbvision on July 12, 2009

Seriously, how Sotomayor tried to deny these fire fighters justice and prevent the case from getting over her head for her own politically correct reasons shows that she is not fit to sit on any bench.

National Journal:

For all the publicity about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 reversal of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s decision (with two colleagues) to reject a discrimination suit by a group of firefighters against New Haven, Conn., one curious aspect of the case has been largely overlooked.

That is the likelihood that but for a chance discovery by a fourth member of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, the now-triumphant 18 firefighters (17 white and one Hispanic) might well have seen their case, Ricci v. DeStefano, disappear into obscurity, with no triumph, no national publicity and no Supreme Court review.

The reason is that by electing on Feb. 15, 2008, to dispose of the case by a cursory, unsigned summary order, Judges Sotomayor, Rosemary Pooler and Robert Sack avoided circulating the decision in a way likely to bring it to the attention of other 2nd Circuit judges, including the six who later voted to rehear the case.

And if the Ricci case — which ended up producing one of the Supreme Court’s most important race decisions in many years — had not come to the attention of those six judges, it would have been an unlikely candidate for Supreme Court review. The justices almost never review summary orders, which represent the unanimous judgment of three appellate judges that the case in question presents no important issues.

The 2nd Circuit and other appeals courts hear cases in three-judge panels, which almost always write full opinions in all significant cases. Those opinions, which are binding precedents, are routinely circulated to all other judges on the circuit, in part so that they can decide whether to request what is called a rehearing en banc by the entire appeals court.

Not so summary orders. They do not become binding precedents, and in the 2nd Circuit they are not routinely circulated to the judges except in regular e-mails containing only case names and docket numbers. Those e-mails routinely go unread, on the assumption that all significant cases are disposed of by full opinions, according to people familiar with 2nd Circuit practice.

In any event, any 2nd Circuit judge who had chanced to find and read the panel’s summary order in Ricci would have found only the vaguest indication what the case was about.

But the case came to the attention of one judge, Jose Cabranes, anyway, through a report in the New Haven Register. It quoted a complaint by Karen Lee Torre, the firefighters’ lawyer, that she had expected “‘a reasoned legal opinion,’ instead of an unpublished summary order, ‘on what I saw as the most significant race case to come before the Circuit Court in 20 years.'”

According to 2nd Circuit sources, Cabranes, who lives in New Haven, saw the article and looked up the briefs and the earlier ruling against the firefighters by federal district judge Janet Arterton. He decided that this was a very important case indeed, and made a rare request for the full 2nd Circuit to hold an en banc rehearing.

(In response to an e-mail from me, Cabranes declined to comment.)

Cabranes, like Sotomayor a Clinton appointee of Puerto Rican heritage — and once a mentor to her — was outvoted by 7-6, with the more liberal judges (including Sotomayor) in the majority. But by publishing a blistering June 12, 2008, dissent Cabranes brought the case forcefully to the attention of the Supreme Court.

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