Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gets feisty on big bench debut

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gets feisty on big bench debut.

It’s always fun to watch what the Nine Wise Ones are doing, but if this is “feisty,” the reporter who wrote this piece hasn’t seen many oral arguments before any appellate court, let alone the US Supreme Court.

Justice Sotomayer, the newbie Justice and the first Obama appointee to the High Court, asked a couple of questions. Supreme Court justices do that. So do appeals court judges. Usually they ask more than a couple of questions. There are times when the lawyers arguing the case can’t catch their breaths from the barrage from the bench. Seems to me that Justice Sotomayer sounds pretty restrained, not “feisty.”

But that’s me.

BTW, I’m glad to see that she doesn’t feel obligated to wear the ruffles and fluff around the collar that her two lady predecessors on the Court insist on wearing. Her picture is in a plain black robe, which is what every Supreme Court Justice should wear, regardless of gender.

Welcome to the highest bench, Justice Sotomayer.

For public consumption, Justice Sotomayer’s colleagues on the US Supreme Court bench are:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (Bush II)
Associate Ā Justice John Paul Stevens (Ford)
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (Reagan)
Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (Reagan)
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (Bush I)
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton)
Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer (Clinton)
Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (Bush II)

Two Justices have retired in recent memory:

Associate Justice (Ret.) Sandra Day O’Connor (Reagan)
Associate Justice (Ret.) David H. Souter (Bush I)

It’s fun to see how these people stack up politically (yeah, I know, the US Supreme Court is supposed to be free of politics. Ri-i-i-ight.). The appointing president is a good indicator of whether a Justice will swing toward the liberal or the conservative.

Those appointed by conservative presidents:


Those appointed by liberal presidents:


Justice Stevens has been known to decide liberally, as has Justice Kennedy. I don’t know Chief Justice Roberts well enough yet to know how he leans (I suspect he’s a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, though), and Justice Sotomayer is, of course, brand-new (though she seems to be fairly liberal in her views). Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito are pretty straight-line conservative, and Justices Ginsburg and Breyer are pretty straight-line liberal.

Heaven help Roe v. Wade with this line-up.