Judge Sonia Sotomayor: ‘There’s going to be a lot of disappointment in the law, a huge amount’

“There’s going to be a lot of disappointment in the law, a huge amount,” she said Wednesday at an event held by the American Bar Association. “Look at me, look at my disagreements.”

Earlier this month, Sotomayor wrote a violent statement when a majority of the court allowed the Texas law to take effect, calling the action “fantastic.”

“You know I can not change Texas law,” Sotomayor said Wednesday, “but you can and everyone else who may or may not like it can go out there and be lobbying in changing laws that you do not like. “

Justice then caught itself talking about a controversial case that is currently before the court.

“I point it out when I shouldn’t because they tell me I shouldn’t,” she said. “But my point is that there are going to be a lot of things you don’t like,” and that the public can change.

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On Monday, when the new season starts, Sotomayor is likely to enter a new season of disagreement. The court will have to contend with some of the biggest cases during Sotomayor’s tenure, including another abortion case representing a full frontal attack on Roe v. Wade, as well as another change dispute that could lead to the annulment of gun restrictions in the country.

No one expects the 67-year-old justice to be in the majority in these cases.

“She presents arguments for future advocates, she creates these roadmaps for how to restore rights for the disabled,” Brooklyn Law Schools Alexis Hoag said at a recent event sponsored by the liberal American Constitution Society. “I’m looking for long disagreements.”

In April last year, Sotomayor acknowledged that she sometimes wrote for the future. “Perhaps,” she said, “a later court will understand that I was right.”

George Washington University Law Professor David Fontana – who once called Sotomayor “People’s Justice” – recently took to Twitter to highlight her role after the majority of the court allowed Texas law to take effect.

“Sotomayor has chosen a different path,” from Chief Justice John Roberts and others who are more moderate in their disagreement, Fontana wrote. “Better to push and develop and alternatively perspective by your voice rather than sacrificing the microphone.”

“The court ruling is fantastic,” Sotomayor wrote at the time. “Presented with an application to join a flagrant constitutional law designed to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evading judicial control, a majority of judges have chosen to bury their heads in the sand.”

Sotomayor added: “The Court should not simply ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only women’s rights but also the sanctity of its precedents and the rule of law,” she concluded.

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Last term, Sotomayor disagreed on more than half of the divided cases for the third time in eight years, according to statistics compiled by Scotusblog.

In one case, the court made it easier to sentence young people to life without parole. Sotomayor took up the dispute, noting that the majority had cleared the recently decided precedent.

She also wrote the biggest disagreement when a 6-3 court overturned a California rule that required charities to disclose the names of their contributors. She noted that the statement could affect donor information in the political arena by allowing more anonymous, so-called “dark money” in the system. The majority, she said, mark disclosure requirements with a “bull’s eye.”

She also disagreed when the court said two provisions of a Arizona voting law restricting how votes can be cast did not violate the historic suffrage law, and she disagreed with the majority in cases that came to court via its emergency document.

In November, for example, the court rejected a request from inmates at a geriatric prison to allow additional protection against Covid.

“The dangers of COVID-19 to these particularly vulnerable inmates were undisputed and, in fact, undeniable,” she wrote.

In January, she struck at the Trump administration’s push to execute 13 death row inmates after nearly a two-decade hiatus.

“To put it in a historical context, the federal government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades,” she wrote.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the school to which Alexis Hoag is affiliated. She is a faculty member at Brooklyn Law School.


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