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Notable opinions of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

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This page was created in advance of the confirmation of Justice Sotomayor in 2009. It has not been updated since 2009.

Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was the first nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Barack Obama.

This page discusses Justice Sotomayor's rulings while serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judicial Philosophy

There is general agreement that Sotomayor will be a "reliably liberal" vote and her joining the Supreme Court of the United States would not shift the ideological balance of power on the court, since Justice Sotomayor succeeded David Souter. However, prior to her confirmation, not much was known about her opinions on "hot-button" issues such as abortion, the death penalty, gay rights and executive power as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where Sotomayor served from 1998 until 2009, tends to hear high-profile cases related to business and securities law on a more regular basis.[1]

A review of her history on the bench as both a federal district judge and an appellate jurist left both conservatives and liberals scratching their heads as to her judicial philosophy. On the one hand, Sotomayor often sided with the police in matters of evidence as demonstrated in U.S. v. Falso[2][3] and did not fulfill liberal expectations in her handling of the abortion issue in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush.[4][5][1] Yet, comments by Sotomayor have led conservatives to believe that she might view the Supreme Court bench as a place "where policy is made."[1][6]

Sotomayor made it abundantly clear during her confirmation hearings that she did not want to be viewed as a judicial activist. In her opening statement, she declared her judicial philosophy to be "fidelity to the law." "The task of a judge is not to make law. It is to apply the law."[7]

Federal District Judge

Sonia Sotomayor served as a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 1992 until rising to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1998.

Summary of Judgeship and Notable Legal Decisions

As a federal district judge, Sotomayor did not hear many controversial cases and kept a regularly low profile with regard to Constitutional issues, but she did gain notoriety after several high profile rulings regarding the Major League Baseball strike of 1994, the Wall Street Journal's publishing of the controversial "suicide note" left by former Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster and copyright issues related to a trivia book about the television show Seinfeld. As a federal district judge, Sotomayor had one of her decisions overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, Inc., 67 F3d 1054 (1995) - In some camps, Sotomayor is considered the judge who "saved" Major League Baseball. Her decision to grant a temporary injunction against the Major League Baseball owners on March 31, 1995 ended the 232-day -long baseball strike of 1994. The injunction prevented the owners from installing replacement players and temporarily reinstated a five-year-old collective bargaining agreement allowing the 1995 season to take place and allowing players and owners to come to a new agreement nearly a year later. Her decision would later be upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Dow Jones v. U.S. Department of Justice, 880F. Supp. 145 (1995) - In 1995, Sotomayor ruled in favor of the Wall Street Journal allowing them to print a photocopy of the final note written by Clinton White House deputy counsel Vince Foster who died in 1993. While the death of Vince Foster was ruled a suicide, it remains a mystery to many and a source of many conspiracy theories. As a result, Sotomayor ruled that the "substantial" public interest in the Foster story outweighed any violation of his family's privacy.[14][15][16]

Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group, 150 F.3d 132 (1998) - Sotomayor ruled (and was upheld on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, that SAT: The Seinfeld Aptitude Test infringed on the copyright of the television show Seinfeld. The case is often used in law schools as a modern application of the fair use doctrine.[17][18]

Tasini v. New York Times, et al, 972 F. Supp 804 (1997) - Sotomayor ruled in favor of the New York Times when it was sued by freelance journalists claiming the NYT did not have the right to include their work in the electronic archival database LexisNexis. Sotomayor's decision was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and that reversal was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in a 7-2 vote (Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer dissenting).[12][19][20]

Bartlett v. New York State Bd. of Law Examiners:WL 930792 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) This is a case involving whether a reading disability qualifies as a disability under the terms of the Amercians with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff was a female doctor who completed law school and attempted to take the New York bar exam. However, because of her alleged reading disability, she requested accomodating conditions for taking the bar exam. The bar exam board would accomodate her, but only if she qualified as having a reading disability under the terms of the board's reading test. The plaintiff did not qualify and could not receive accomodation. Seeking to define a reading disability that falls under the scope of the ADA, the Second Circuit determined that the plaintiff did suffer from a reading disability because she read "slowly, haltingly, and laboriously." The board's test, however, failed to recognize her disability. Thus, notwithstanding the board's inadequate reading test, the plaintiff both qualified as disabled and as worthy of accommodation for the bar exam.

Circuit Court of Appeals Judge

Sonia Sotomayor served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998 until her confirmation as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2009.

Summary of Judgeship and Notable Legal Decisions

During more than a decade as a circuit court judge, Sotomayor has heard appeals on more than 3,000 cases and has written in excess of 380 opinions for the majority. She has had six of those decisions reviewed by the United States Supreme Court with 4 of them overturned and two upheld. Studies find her judgeship to have been moderate with respect to political leanings. A study of her 226 majority opinions since 2001 finds that 38% of her opinions could be clearly defined as liberal in nature with 49% of them falling clearly on the conservative end of the spectrum. She tends to be more conservative in criminal cases and tends to be more liberal in her dissenting opinions according to studies.[21][22]

Judge Sotomayor is generally considered to be a competent jurist with a good legal sense who writes good opinions, but is criticized by some of the lawyers who argue before her as a "bully," "nasty" and a "terror."[23]

Malesko v. Correctional Services Corporation, 229 F3d 374 (2000) - In this case, Sotomayor found that an inmate living in a halfway house could sue a government contractor for forcing him to climb five flights of stairs despite a heart condition after the inmate suffered a heart attack, fell down the stairs and injured himself. Sotomayor held "extending Bivens liability to reach private corporations furthers [its] overriding purpose: providing redress for violations of constitutional rights." (Bivens was a 1971 Supreme Court case that allowed some people whose rights have been violated by federal agents to sue.) The Supreme Court overturned Sotomayor's decision in a 5 to 4 ruling stating that only individual agents, not corporations, could be sued for such violations.[24][25][26]

U.S. v. Gori, 230 F.3d 44 (2d Cir. 2000): This is a case involving the scope of police searches and seizures. Two police officers attempted to investigate a suspected appartment where alleged drug activity occured. When the defendant opened the door the police observed the premises, ordered the defendant out, and seized one kilogram of cocaine and $15,000 in cash. Under the Fourth Amendment, one cannot search a private residence (a home) without a warrant, unless there are exigent circumstances. One of these exigent circumstances, the Court found, is when a homeowner opens his or her door, thus eliminating a reasonable expectation of privacy and, hence, doing away with the warrant requirement. Furthermore, while probable cause is needed for searches and seizures, the police only needed reasonable cause if the search occured during the process of a police investigation. Thus the majority ruled that the evidence was obtained legally and that the police acted reasonably given the circumstances. In her dissent, Judge Sotomayor ruled that the opening of the door was not enough to do away with the warrant requirement. And even if the police had no other options, the criminality of the few does not override the Constitutional right to privacy.

Croll v. Croll, 229 F.3d 133 (2d Cir. 2000): This is a case involving an international custody dispute. Judge Sotomayor dissented from a majority opinion which held that the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provided no remedy for a father whose wife had taken their minor daughter to live in the United States, in direct contravention of a Hong Kong custody decree that barred the daughter’s removal from Hong Kong without the father’s consent. The Hague Convention provides for the return of children wrongfully removed from one country to another, including in circumstances where the removal was in breach of rights of custody. At issue in Croll was whether the father had a protected right of custody. The majority of the Court found that the father did not have a right of custody, at least as understood as the "ability to choose and give sustenance, shelter, clothing, moral and spiritual guidance, medical attentioan, education, etc." The Court held instead that he merely had a right of access to his daughter. Judge Sotomayor disagreed with this narrow interpretation of the Convention, calling for less "traditional" and "parochial definitions" in order to make the international treaty more applicable. Judge Sotomayor reasoned that because the father had a right to determine, along with the mother, the country in which his daughter resided, he had more than a simple right of access to his daughter. Judge Sotomayor also argued that the majority’s ruling undermined the purpose of the Convention, which was to prevent parents from fleeing to a new country with a child in violation of the custody law of the child’s home country.

In re Visa Check 280 F.3d 124 (2d Cir. 2001): This is an antitrust case involving whether a large number of merchants and retailers could bring a class-action lawsuit. The complaint involves a shared policy between Visa and Mastercard, the defendants, called "honor all cards." This policy required all participating stores that accepted credit cards to also accept all forms of the defendants' debit cards. The plaintiff storeowners complained that this policy barred any efforts to compete with other card sellers, thus providing grounds for the antitrust suit. Here, however, the Second Circuit and Judge Sotomayor were asked whether the plaintiffs could bring a class-action suit. To qualify for a class-action suit, the complainant must satisfy four requirements: (1) [T]he class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Affirming a decision from the lower court, Judge Sotomayor found that the plaintiffs satisfied these requirements, therefore qualifying for a class action suit against Visa and Mastercard.

U.S. v. Falcone, (257 F.3d 226]] 2d Cir. 2001): This is a case involving insider securities trading. At issue was whether the sale or purchase of a security is a requirement for conviction for securities fraud under the misappropriation theory of insider trading. The defendant, a security broker, was convicted based on his participation in a scheme where a financial news magazine wholesaler faxed pre-release confidential copies of a column entitled "Inside Wall Street" that discussed companies and their stocks. Utilizing this pre-released information to his benefit, defendant traded in the securities discussed in the column. But proof that defendant capitalized off the particular insider information was not required. Instead, what mattered was whether there was breach of a fiduciary duty and whether the defendant tippee knew of such a breach. The misappropriation theory of securities fraud therefore carries a broader scope of liability. It does not require the sale or purchase of a security in connection with the breach of duty owed to source of confidential information. The purpose of the misappropriation theory, the Court found, is to protect property rights in information. Sotomayor, writing for a unanimous court, ruled that the defendant’s conviction should not be overturned because the lower court did not misapply any rules governing securities fraud. The court found: (1) the tipper breached his fiduciary duty and (2) the defendant tippee was aware of the breach.[27]

Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, 304 F3d 183 (2002) - In a case involving the conservative Mexico City Policy - announced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and subsequently rescinded by President Bill Clinton and reauthorized by President George W. Bush, Sotomayor found that the federal government is within its rights to deny federal aid to foreign organizations that support or perform abortions. She dismissed claims by the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Law and Policy that the Mexico City Policy violated the First Amendment right to association as well as Fifth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. In her finding, Sotomayor cited the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 which authorizes the President "to furnish assistance, on such terms and conditions as he may determine, for voluntary population planning" as well as multiple Supreme Court precedents. In her decision, Sotomayor wrote, "the Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds."[28][29][1]

Jarvis v. Ford Motor Co. (283 F.3d 33]] 2d Cir. 2002): This is a tort case primarily involving the validity of a jury verdict. The plaintiff started her 1991 Ford Aerostar van when it unexpectedly accelerated, leaving the van in a ditch and the plaintiff with serious head injuries. The jury returned an allegedly inconsistent verdict, finding that Ford had not designed a defective cruise control but that it had been negligent in its design. On appeal, Judge Sotomayor ruled that Ford effectively waived any objections to the ruling because a proper waiver could only have come prior to jury deliberations. Furthermore, the evidence and testimony were sufficient to uphold the findings on the jury.

Krimstock v. Kelly, 306 F.3d 40 (2d Cir. 2002): Judge Sotomayor, joined by Judge Newman, held that the Due Process Clause and the Fourth Amendment required that the City of New York provide a post-deprivation hearing to determine the validity of the City’s retention of automobiles seized as an instrumentality of crime. New York City’s Civil Administrative Code § 14-140 permits the City to take custody of all property suspected of being the means of committing a crime, pending the outcome of a civil forfeiture proceeding. The City had relied upon this statute to impound vehicles following an arrest for crimes in which a car was alleged to have served as an instrumentality. Judge Sotomayor reasoned that the risk of erroneous seizures gave rise to “grave Fourth Amendment concerns as to the adequacy of an inquiry into probable cause that must wait months or sometimes years before a civil forfeiture proceeding takes place,” a concern which was heightened as City “‘has a direct pecuniary interest in the outcome of the [civil forfeiture] proceeding.’” Judge Sotomayor further held that, before the City could deprive an owner of his or her property for such a lengthy period of time, the City was required by the Due Process Clause to give the owner a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Judge Sotomayor concluded, “Plaintiffs have a right under the Fourteenth Amendment to ask what ‘justification’ the City has for retention of their vehicles during the pendency of proceedings and to put that question to the City at an early point after seizure in order to minimize any arbitrary or mistaken encroachment upon plaintiffs' use and possession of their property.” In applying the seminal Mathews v. Eldridge balancing test --- which weighs the private interest affected, the risk of an erroneous deprivation, and the government’s interest to determine what procedures are constitutionally required --- Judge Sotomayor emphasized the crucial importance of a car in people’s daily lives, often providing the sole means of accessing jobs and schools, while noting that the City’s financial interest in preserving the seized car for a potential auction following the conclusion of forfeiture proceedings could be equally served through payment of a bond, as is the practice in many states. Following the Second Circuit’s decision, a Seventh Circuit panel consisting of Judges Posner, Evans and Bauer reexamined a Seventh Circuit case that had reached the opposite conclusion from the Krimstock court. The Seventh Circuit took the unusual step of abrogating that existing precedent, holding that the Krimstock decision’s reasoning on this issue was persuasive. Smith v. City of Chicago, 524 F.3d 834 (7th Cir. 2008. On February 23, 2009, the Supreme Court granted a petition of certiorari to resolve this issue. 129 S.Ct. 1401 (2009).[30]

In re Millenium Seacarriers, Inc., 419 F.3d 83 (2d Cir. 2005): Resolving a particularly thorny jurisdictional issue involving the intersection of admiralty and bankruptcy law, Judge Sotomayor held that a bankruptcy court could expunge the maritime liens of vessels that had not been arrested within the jurisdiction. Surveying a century of admiralty law, the court recognized that jurisdiction over an in rem suit to quiet title to a vessel lies exclusively in Article III courts sitting in admiralty, and then only when the vessel has been arrested in the jurisdiction of the district court. Yet the court held that, where lienors voluntarily submitted themselves to the bankruptcy court’s equitable jurisdiction for the adjudication of the priority and validity of their liens, the resulting proceeding was not an in rem suit lying in admiralty but an equitable proceeding. As such equitable jurisdiction is an exception to the exclusive jurisdiction of the admiralty courts to quiet title for maritime vessels, the Second Circuit held that the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction to extinguish maritime liens in the bankruptcy.

Hankins v. Lyght (dissent), 441 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2006)]: This case determined whether an ordained Methodist clergy member (age 70) suffered age discrimination when his superior, the defendant bishop, ordered him to retire upon turning 70. Generally, civil rights statutes do not apply to religious domains except when there is a "compelling state interest," as outlined in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While the district court ruled that the First Amendment protected the defendant, the Second Circuit ruled that RFRA applies and, hence, the district court should re-consider whether there was a "compelling state interest." Judge Sotomayor dissented, finding that the parties did not argue for the application of RFRA, thus the issue should have been waived. Furthermore, even if an RFRA claim were disputed, the defendant would still prevail because the dispute was between private religious parties and did not involve a governmental entity, which RFRA requires. Judge Sotomayor further argued that, even if RFRA could apply to suits between private parties as a general matter, it was still irrelevant to the instant case because Congress did not intend the ADEA to apply to employment disputes between a religious entity and its spiritual leaders.[31]

U.S. v. Giordano, (442 F.3d 30 2d Circ. 2006): Judge Sotomayor, writing for a majority of the court, affirmed the conviction of the former mayor of Waterbury, who had been found guilty of repeatedly sexually abusing an eight-year old and a ten-year old girl. Giordano was convicted of depriving individuals of their civil rights under color of state law and of using a facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of enticing a person under the age of sixteen to engage in sexual activity. With respect to the first of these counts, Judge Sotomayor ruled that the evidence supported a conclusion that Giordano had acted under color of state law, as he had relied upon his authority as mayor to intimidate his victims into submitting to him and remaining silent about his abuse. He had therefore misused his official power to make the civil rights violations possible. With respect to the second count, Judge Sotomayor held that Giordano’s intrastate phone calls soliciting his victims from their female relative was sufficient to support a conviction under the statute. The Court ruled that the relevant inquiry is whether the defendant made “use of a facility of interstate commerce” within the meaning of the criminal statute. Consistent with Second Circuit precedent, the Court held that the national telephone network is such a facility.[32]

Empire Healthchoice Assurance, Inc. vs. McVeigh, 396 F. 3d 136, affirmed by the Supreme Court, 547 U.S. 677 (2006): The New York Division of Blue Cross Blue Shield (Empire HealthChoice) sued the estate of a deceased federal employee who had received $157,000 in insurance benefits as the result of an injury covered under the insurance company's plan. The wife of the federal employee had also won $3.2 million in a separate lawsuit over her husband’s injuries. Empire HealthChoice sought reimbursement for the benefits it had paid, arguing that a provision in the federal insurance plan required reimbursement when the beneficiary is compensated for an injury by a third party. The Second Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Sotomayor and joined by Jack Sack, did not reach the merits of this claim, holding instead that the federal courts lacked federal matter jurisdiction over the claim, which in Judge Sotomayor’s viewed belonged in state court. Judge Sotomayor’s opinion rejected the argument that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 8901-8914, authorized federal common-law rule-making or federal jurisdiction in the case, and further held that there was no significant conflict between federal and state law that could justify the creation of federal common law or the exercise of federal jurisdiction. Judge Raggi dissented. After the decision was issued, the United States filed a brief urging the Court to reconsider. Judge Sotomayor, again joined by Judge Sack, denied the request for a rehearing. The Supreme Court affirmed Judge Sotomayor’s holding in an opinion authored by Judge Ginsburg and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens, Scalia and Thomas. See 547 U.S. 677. In affirming the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court abrogated contrary rulings from the Seventh and Fourth Circuits. Justice Breyer dissented in an opinion joined by Justices Kennedy, Souter and Alito. (The Supreme Court's opinion in this case.)

Riverkeeper Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 475 F3d 83 (2007) - Sotomayor found in favor of environmental group Riverkeeper who challenged an EPA ruling on the Clean Water Act's "best technology" rule involving power plants need to intake water as weighed against the risk to aquatic life in surrounding waters. In her ruling, she held "Congress has already specified the relationship between cost and benefits in requiring that the technology designated by EPA be the best available." Sotomayor's decision was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote where the Court held that EPA could not weigh the costs of changes to power plants versus the value of organisms in dollar terms, but could consider only what costs "may reasonably be borne" by power plants when determining the best technology rule available.[33][25][26]

U.S. v. Falso 544 F.3d 110 (2008): This is a case involving the permisability of evidence obtained without probable cause. Falso was connected to a child pornography site and was convicted, 18 years before this case, of sexually abusing a minor. Suspecting a connection between internet searches of child pornography and possion of child pornogrpahy, the police obtained a warrant and subsequently searched Falso's house, seizing enough child pornography to sentence Falso to 30 years in prison. On appeal, Judge Sotomayor found that the police did not have probably cause. Any connection between Falso and possion of child pornography was too speculative. However, the evidence obtained was still admissible because of the good faith exception. Since the police had an objectively reasonable reliance on the warrant, the evidence could be permitted. Hence, Judge Sotomayor upheld the ruling of the district court.[34][35]

Ricci v. DeStefano, 530 F.3d 87 (2008) - In what is considered to be the judge's most high-profile case, Sotomayor joined a finding in favor of the city of New Haven rejecting a lawsuit filed by 17 white firefighters and one Hispanic firefighter claiming race discrimination when the city of New Haven denied promotions following a promotion examination that yielded no black candidates eligible for advancement. The Second Circuit concluded that the City’s actions were protected under Title VII, as the City acted to remedy test results that had a disproportionate racial impact. The Second Circuit voted not to hear the case en banc, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. The Ricci decision has been the subject of some controversy. In a dissent from the denial of a en banc rehearing by the full appeals court , Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes criticized the per curiam panel opinion for “tersely adopt[ing] the reasoning of a lower court” rather than independently setting forth an analysis of the issues. Second Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker, in contrast, wrote an opinion concurring with the denial of en banc review that defended the panel’s decision and approach. Judge Parker noted that the practice of disposing a case by adopting a lower court’s reasoning was “anything but novel” and “[i]n fact . . . pre-date[d] the formal establishment of [the Second Circuit] in 1891 by at least fifty years.”

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the decision stating the decision to cancel the promotions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which guarantees equal employment opportunity. The Court found that Sotomayor's ruling would allow the city to "experiment" with tests until they found one that produced "a more desirable racial distribution."[36][26][37][38][39][40][41][25][42][1][7][43][44][45] (See a transcript of the Supreme Court hearing on Ricci here.)

Maloney v. Cuomo, 554 F.3d 56 (2d Cir. 2009): This case primarily involves the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to have weapons in their homes. The state of New York, acting under a statute prohibiting the possession of "chucka sticks," seized and destroyed the plaintiff's "chucka sticks" upon being discovered in his private residence. Against the plaintiff, the Second Circuit ruled that the statute was constitutional. Because the Second Amendment has not yet been incorporated, or made law for all states, New York was within its right to curb the possession of such weapons as "chucka sticks." Finally, concerning the Fourteenth Amendment, New York demonstrated enough of a rational interest in curbing the possession of "chucka sticks" because such items were "highly dangerous."[46]


The Supreme Court has reversed Judge Sotomayor in seven instances where it granted certiorari to review an opinion she authored. In three of these reversals, the Court held that Judge Sotomayor erred in her statutory interpretation. In one case, the Supreme Court vacated a judgment Judge Sotomayor made and remanded the case back to the Second Circuit in which the Second Circuit issued a reversal on its original ruling.

Ricci v. DeStefano, 530 F.3d 87 (2008): In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the decision stating the decision to cancel the promotions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which guarantees equal employment opportunity. The Court found that Sotomayor's ruling would allow the city to "experiment" with tests until they found one that produced "a more desirable racial distribution."[47][26][48][49][50][51][52][25][53][1][7][43][54][55] (See a transcript of the Supreme Court hearing on Ricci here.)

Riverkeeper Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency (475 F.3d 83, 2007): This case involved power plants that draw water from lakes and rivers for cooling purposes, killing various fish and aquatic organisms in the process. The Supreme Court reversed Sotomayor's ruling in a 6-3 decision, saying that Sotomayor's interpretation of the "best technology" rule was too narrow. Sotomayor orginally ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency may not engage in a cost-benefit analysis in implementing a rule that the "best technology available" must be used to limit the environmental impact of power plants on nearby aquatic life. Justices Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg dissented, siding with Sotomayor's position.[56]

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Dabit, (547 U.S. 71, 2006): The Court held that Judge Sotomayor's opinion did not give sufficiently broad scope to a preemption provision of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act. Justice Stevens found, based on the Court's earlier cases broadly relevant language in other contexts, that Congress intended to eliminate state-law class action remedies for stockholders who also lacked a remedy under federal law. In reversing the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court abrogated decisions from the Eleventh, Ninth and Eighth Circuit, which had adopted an analysis similar to Judge Sotomayor's.

The European Community vs. RJR Nabisco(125 S.Ct. 1968, 2005) (424 F.3d 175, 2005): The Supreme Court on May 2, 2005 remanded an original ruling Judge Sotomayor ruled on January 14, 2004 to the Second Circuit. The European Community sued RJR Nabisco and other tobacco companies alleging violation of the RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute, (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968). At issue was the matter of foreign enities suing US companies. The Court declined to address the RICO allegations and remanded the case back to the Second Circuit for reconsideration in light of the opinion in Pasquantino v. United States.[57] On September 13, 2005, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that foreign governments cannot bring civil suits in US Courts against tobacco companies under the RICO statutes to recover lost tax revenues and law enforcement costs due to alleged smuggling. Some technology-related legal experts believed the ruling might benefit international e-commerce.[57]

Correctional Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, (534 U.S. 61, 2001): The Supreme Court reversed a Sotomayor opinion which allowed an inmate to sue a halfway house operator for negligence based on a Bivens claim. Reversing, the Supreme Court held that Bivens only applied to federal employees and that an extension of Bivens was only appropriate for cases where no other remedy remained. Here, the defendant was a private contractor and not a federal agency. Chief Justice Rehnquist held that if Congress wished to extend the scope of liability then it was up to them and not the judiciary. Also, the former inmate had access to effective remedies since he had full access to remedial mechanisms established by the Bureau of Prisons. Finally, the Court held that the former inmate’s suit would not have advanced Bivens’ core purpose of deterring individual officers from engaging in unconstitutional wrongdoing; it merely would have punished an agency for an amount of over $4 million.

New York Times, Inc. v. Tasini, (533 U.S. 483, 2001): The Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit’s reversal of Judge Sotomayor’s district court ruling that the Copyright Act permitted electronic publishers to reproduce all articles in a periodical under a “collective works” privilege, concluding that Sotomayor erred in her interpretation of “revision of [that] collective works” privilege in the Act.[58]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Time Magazine, "Sonia Sotomayor: A Justice Like No Other," May 28, 2009
  2. ChildLaw Blog, "Sotomayor on Child Porn - U.S. v. Falso," June 8, 2009 (dead link)
  3. Second Circuit Blog, "Good Faith Efforts," September 28. 2008
  4. Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush on OpenJurist
  5. Washington Post, "Abortion Rights Backers Get Reassurances on Nominee," May 29, 2009
  6. New York Times, Sotomayor's View of Judging Is on the Record," May 14, 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Time Magazine, "Sotomayor Hearing: Why Shouldn't Judges Make Policy>," July 16, 2009
  8. New York Times, "Sotomayor's Baseball Ruling Lingers, 14 Years Later," May 26, 2009
  9. Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee Inc. on
  10. "Sotomayor's District Court Decisions on Traditional Labor Matters" on The Empoyment Law Post, June 16, 2009
  11. New York Times, "Sotomayor, Baseball's Savior, May Be Possibility for High Court," May 14, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 CNN, "Sotomayor's resume, record on notable cases"
  13. New York Times, BASEBALL: Woman in the News; Strike-Zone Arbitrator -- Sonia Sotomayor," April 1, 1995
  14. A summary of media related decisions by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor (timed out)
  15. FOIA Update: Significant New Decisions (1995)
  16. First Amendment Center, "Sotomayor on the First Amendment," May 28 2009 (dead link)
  18. Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group, Inc. and Beth B. Golub at
  19. New York Times Company Inc. v. Jonathan Tasini at
  20. New York Times Co., Inc. v. Tasini et al. at
  21. Time Magazine, "Where Sonia Sotomayor Really Stands on Race," June 11, 2009
  22., "Sotomayor Is No Activist Judge, Says Author," June 8, 2009
  23. New York Times, "Woman in the News - Sotomayor, a Trailblazer and a Dreamer," May 27, 2009
  24. John Malesko v. Correctional Services Corporation on OpenJurist
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 New York Times, "Sotomayor's Notable Court Opinions and Articles," July 10, 2009
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 New York Times, "Selected Cases of Judge Sonia Sotomayor"
  27. Text of U.S. v. Falcone
  28. Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush on OpenJurist
  29. Washington Post, "Abortion Rights Backers Get Reassurances on Nominee," May 29, 2009
  30. [* Text of Krimstock v. Kelly
  31. Judge Sotomayor's dissenting opinion in Hankins. (dead link)
  32. [Text of U.S. v. Giordano
  33. Riverkeeper Inc. v. United States Envrionmental Protection Agency on OpenJurist
  34. ChildLaw Blog, "Sotomayor on Child Porn - U.S. v. Falso," June 8, 2009 (dead link)
  35. Second Circuit Blog, "Good Faith Efforts," September 28. 2008
  36. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Equal Employment Opportunity on FindLaw
  37. New York Times, "Because of Race: Ricci v. DeStefano - Stanley Fish Blog," July 13, 2009
  38. Argument Recap: Ricci v. DeStefano on SCOTUSblog
  39. Legal Information Institute Bulletin, Ricci v. DeStefano
  40. Ricci v. DeStefano from Cornell Law School's Supreme Court Collection
  41. United States Supreme Court decision on Ricci v. DeStefano on
  42. Christian Science Monitor, "U.S. Supreme Court takes up 'reverse discrimination' case," January 9, 2009
  43. 43.0 43.1 Time Magazine, "How the Republicans Will Go After Sonia Sotomayor," July 13, 2009
  44. Time Magazine, "Where Sonia Sotomayor Really Stands on Race," June 11, 2009
  45. Analysis of SCOTUS oral arguments in Ricci
  46. [554 F.3d 56, 59]
  47. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Equal Employment Opportunity on FindLaw
  48. New York Times, "Because of Race: Ricci v. DeStefano - Stanley Fish Blog," July 13, 2009
  49. Argument Recap: Ricci v. DeStefano on SCOTUSblog
  50. Legal Information Institute Bulletin, Ricci v. DeStefano
  51. Ricci v. DeStefano from Cornell Law School's Supreme Court Collection
  52. United States Supreme Court decision on Ricci v. DeStefano on
  53. Christian Science Monitor, "U.S. Supreme Court takes up 'reverse discrimination' case," January 9, 2009
  54. Time Magazine, "Where Sonia Sotomayor Really Stands on Race," June 11, 2009
  55. Analysis of SCOTUS oral arguments in Ricci
  56. "CNBC" Judge Sotomayor's Past ruling on Business Issues, May 26, 2009
  57. 57.0 57.1 "Tech Law Journal" Second Circuit ruling on RJR Nabisco, September 13, 2005
  58. Text of New York Times v. Tasini