May 26th, 2009
01:29 PM ET
13 years ago

Past Sotomayor rulings faced tough crowd on high court

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's not just lawyers who face a tough audience in the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal judges themselves frequently have a difficult time in persuading the nation's high court on matters of law, as Judge Sonia Sotomayor can personally attest.

Over the course of almost 17 years on the federal bench, Sotomayor has written opinions on at least eight cases that the Supreme Court later reviewed on appeal, according to a CNN analysis of Sotomayor's cases. Of those cases, five were either overturned or sent back to the lower court for further consideration. Two cases were upheld, but Sotomayor's legal reasoning in one the cases was panned in the opinion signed by entire court. An eighth case is still being deliberated.

Sotomayor issued seven of the rulings while serving in her current post on the U.S. Court of Appeals; the eighth ruling stemmed from a case she presided over as a district court judge in 1997.

In three of the cases where Sotomayor was overturned, the newest Supreme Court nominee had the same or similar position as the jurist she hopes to replace, Justice David Souter.

The list of cases and eventual Supreme Court outcomes is after the jump.

* Ricci v. DeStefano 530 F.3d 87 (2008) – SCOTUS decision pending as of 5/26/2009
* Riverkeeper, Inc. vs. EPA, 475 F.3d 83 (2007) – Reversed 6-3 (Dissenting: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg)
* Knight vs. Commissioner, 467 F.3d 149 (2006) – Upheld, but reasoning was unanimously faulted
* Dabit vs. Merrill Lynch, 395 F.3d 25 (2005) – Reversed 8-0
* Empire Healthchoice Assurance, Inc. vs. McVeigh, 396 F.3d 136 (2005) – Upheld 5-4 (Dissenting: Breyer, Kennedy, Souter, Alito)
* Malesko v. Correctional Services Corp., 299 F.3d 374 (2000) – Reversed 5-4 (Dissenting: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer)
* Tasini vs. New York Times, et al, 972 F. Supp. 804 (1997) – Reversed 7-2 (Dissenting: Stevens, Breyer)
* The European Community vs. RJR Nabisco, 355 F.3d 123 (2004) – Judgment vacated and sent back to appeals court

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. confused

    If personal experiences or opinions aren't allowed then why has the first constitution been amended?

    May 26, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. confused

    Isn't the constitution cloaked in racism & sexism and we've altered some of it due to it being drafted by racist and sexist men?

    May 26, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. VGal

    The repubs are vetting her more than Sarah Idiot Palin.

    May 26, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. confused

    What was the lady's name who Bush tried to nominate? Meir or something like that. I guess she was qualified>?!>?!

    May 26, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. ray ray

    This activist judge who thinks being a Hispanic Woman gives her an advantage of making better rulings than "white men" has been overturned 6 in 8 times by the Supreme Court.


    *eyes rolling*

    May 26, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Once You Vote Black

    Great news! The California Court up held the ban. I am liberal but let’s not get carried away. SS Marriage is a little too rich for my blood.

    May 26, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. nom deplume, esq.

    Even Breyer and Ginsburg panned some of her lower court decisions. Not a good track record, but she will be Obama's justice and follow orders faithfully.

    May 26, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. single mom

    I'm getting the feeling she might not 'fit in' with the sitting Justices.
    Fresh views should always be welcome, but these reversals should set off a few alarms and raise red flags.
    Anyway we can get more detail on these cases without the legalese gobbledygook?

    May 26, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Tracy---Indianapolis, IN

    I wonder why is it troubling, Is it because she's a woman or because shes not white? GET OVER IT

    Obama 12

    May 26, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. No Incumbents 2010

    Usually the Supreme Court only accepts for review, cases from the Court of Appeals that it intends to reverse. Otherwise, they would just let the Court of Appeals case stand without further review. Six cases reversed in 17 years is an extremely high number of cases that were not reversed.

    May 26, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Kevin in Ohio

    Certainly a pretty lousy track record.

    May 26, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. matt

    She'll be a big hit at the Scalia Summer Cookout.

    May 26, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. TCM

    She was shot down because her rulings were her "opinions," which were heavily biased with liberal agenda crap. Instead, if she'd have approached the issue with an open mind and interpreted the law as required maybe more than 50% of her rulings submitted to the SC would have been upheld. She's all about fulfilling Obama's agenda, having been promised the position by him during the campaigning days...crooked...Chicago...politics....

    May 26, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. carlo

    Wow, now CNN is going to jump on the bash Sotomayer bandwagon? Great, do me a favor first. Go and look up the thousands of cases appellate judges decide and then see how many of them are sent back. If she's only had 8 sent back, that's pretty darn good.

    May 26, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. Sidney Jacobs

    Egomaniac who wants to create law and not interrupt it.

    May 26, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. DannyJ

    So the Supreme Court seems to have made a very substantive opinion on this person, its negative, and its fairly unanimous. People should take heed

    May 26, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |

    Sotomayor is a great pick and is well qualified to sit on the SCOTUS. Obama made a great judicial pick and, truth be told, a superb political pick as well. Republicans will have to tread very carefully lest they lose the last vestiges of support they may have left from the Hispanic community and moderate to progressive woman and other minorities.

    May 26, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. donttreadonme

    I am happy that he nominated a Hispanic woman ............but I wish she wasn't such a liberal pig.

    Bush led the way in appointing minorities to high positions. Funny he gets no credit for this though?

    May 26, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    8 in 17 years? That's nothing. I know the GOP is going to have a field day with the ration of overturned to upheld cases, but seriously, 8 appeals in 17 years is a miniscule number in the first place.

    BTW, for how many of her decisions did the appellant request certiorari and the SCOTUS refused to grant it? That should probably be included in the "upheld" column as well.

    May 26, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Ouch! It doesn't speak well to how her opnions were received. The questions that goes unanswered here is who "panned" the opinions that she wrote? Were these opinions solely hers? How many opinions were not overturned or appealed further? There are a lot of holes here; where are the answers?

    May 26, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Terry

    I don't know enough about these cases and the reasoning of the Supreme Court to form an opinion – and neither do most of you.

    I do know that five Republican Party hacks overturned the 2000 election, which was won by Al Gore (and don't we wish they had decided differently now?). Those same five politicians are still on the Court. If they voted against Sotomayor opinions and rulings, that is no reason to fault her.

    May 26, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Happy

    "Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." [U.C. Berkeley School of Law, 10/26/2001]"

    I must admit I'm disturbed by the prejudice in Judge Sotomayer's comment. I don't see why her "rich latina experience" should make her de facto a better judge than a white man. It bothers me that she thought it. It bothers me more that she said it publicly.

    May 26, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Of the 8 cases reviewed by the SCOTUS, 6 were reversed. Not a good batting average. If (when) confirmed, I hope she gets it right better than 25% of the time.

    May 26, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. joe smith

    look, one must be a consitutional scholar to interpret, it appears at least on the surface, the nominee fits the job description..time, and wrangling will decide..

    May 26, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Alan

    Well, they won't be reversing her anymore . . . 🙂

    May 26, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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