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Monday, June 15, 2009

Courts - "Is Sonia Sotomayor Mean?" An ILB suggestion

Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio had a nearly 8-minute story this morning headed "Is Sonia Sotomayor Mean?" Some quotes:

Judge Guido Calabresi, former Yale Law School dean and Sotomayor's mentor, now says that when Sotomayor first joined the Court of Appeals, he began hearing rumors that she was overly aggressive, and he started keeping track, comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.

"And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn't stand being questioned toughly by a woman," Calabresi says. "It was sexism in its most obvious form."

And what if such criticism came from a woman lawyer? Well, says Calabresi, women can be just as sexist as men in their expectations of how a woman judge should act.

Totenberg plays some quotes from both Sotomayor and, for comparison, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. (These can best be appreciated by listening to the piece, rather than reading the transcript.) Totenberg concludes:
So, if Sotomayor sometimes dominates oral arguments at her court — if she is feisty, even pushy — then she would fit right in at the U.S. Supreme Court.
A suggestion to Nina from the ILB. Great report! But you might also want to listen some other Circuit Court judges, for instance, from the 7th Circuit, to see how their questioning stacks up against that of Judge Sotomayor. For instance, take a listen to this one-hour oral argument in the wine shipping case, Baude v. Heath. At the time (Feb. 25, 2008), I wrote:
Listen to the oral arguments here, but not if you are faint of heart. They are pretty eye-opening in-so-far as what it can be like to appear before a panel that includes Easterbrook and Posner.
Nina, you might conclude Judge Sotomayor would fit right in at the 7th Circuit too.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 15, 2009 12:52 PM
Posted to Courts in general | Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions