President Obama’s choice for the recent Supreme Court vacancy, Sonia Sotomayor, brings new lifeblood to the country’s most cherished institution. Many are already discussing the impact of having the first latina woman on the high bench. But what will the practical implications of Sotomayor’s worldview be in the decisions in which she would participate as a Supreme Court Justice?
As a young prosecutor, Sotomayor saw the underbelly of American society on a daily basis. She was confronted with child pornographers, rapists, hookers, and a variety of criminal defendants. While some have argued that Sotomayor may be an overly-sympathetic liberal, her record as a prosecutor does not paint that picture. In fact, a look at her opinions as a federal judge show her siding with the government more often than not.
Sotomayor will bring fresh perspective to an area of our society that many in the highest offices of our land have little experience, criminal justice. In fact, Sotomayor has seen first-hand what some might consider “the worst of America.” But who better to solve some of the difficult challenges presented by the intermingling of poverty and crime than someone who has over three decades of experience dealing with these types of issues.
Upon finishing her five years in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Sotomayor was equipped with extensive skills as a litigator. She also had gained a deep understanding of the impacts of social policy on crime in our country. Many consider these experiences to be the strength of her addition as a Supreme Court Justice.
Only time will tell where on the spectrum her judicial philosophy will fall. While most of her opinions as a federal judge are considered middle-of-the-road, it is likely that she will put a pro-prosecution touch on decisions related to criminal law and procedure.