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Over 1000 law professors join letter endorsing Sotomayor

In a letter received today by the Senate Judiciary Committee, more than 1000 academics expressed their support for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

A number of signatories with diverse specialties and political leanings discussed via conference call Judge Sotomayor’s qualifications and strongly rebuked any characterization of her as a liberal ideologue. The professors believed Judge Sotomayor to be a moderate, pragmatic, and incrementalist jurist across all areas of law.

Judge Sotomayor’s criminal law record has been recently highlighted by the White House and the Democratic majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which released a report yesterday on 800 criminal cases) as an example of how she is a “consensus judge.” Professors echoed this sentiment, calling her decisions workmanlike and centrist. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor, said that Judge Sotomayor has not in any way expanded, enhanced, or departed from the precedent established by the Supreme Court on law enforcement issues. Robert Weisberg, a Stanford Law School professor, emphasized that in habeas corpus cases, Judge Sotomayor has been a “model of meticulousness” and strictly followed Congress’s statute.

Likewise, she has split evenly in ruling for plaintiffs or defendants in business cases: Columbia Law School Professsor John C. Coffee called her a “standout” for businesses in the field of class action certification (citing her participation in In re IPO Securities Litigation), while Arthur Miller, a New York University Law School professor, said she also has shown concern for consumers and public safety in litigation.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s criticism of the Second Circuit’s short summary order in Ricci v. DeStefano might also be deflected by looking at Judge Sotomayor as a consensus builder; Prof. Miller said that on such a difficult case the three judges could only come to an unanimous result by eschewing elaborate language.

Harvard Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe said that Judge Sotomayor is the “most confirmable” nominee in decades and that the extremely high number of professors signing the letter and their uniform endorsement was unprecedented.