Looking For Holes

If you are looking for holes in President Obama's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, then maybe the best example right now is a case involving affirmative action and reverse discrimination that came before appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor in 2007.

The case involves white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, who sued when the results of a promotion exam were thrown out by city officials.

Why?  Because not enough minority applicants passed the exam back in late 2003.

The white firefighters lost their case, as the matter went through the courts, arriving before the Second Circuit in 2007.

There, Sotomayor was part of a three judge panel who heard one of the appeals.

The interesting part to me wasn't that Sotomayor sided with the city and against the firefighters.  There might be four Supreme Court Justices who do the same on this particular issue.

No, the odd part was the way that the three judge panel which included Sotomayor handled the matter.  There was no lengthy decision or anything like that issued after the arguments.

Instead, the judges put out a one paragraph, unsigned opinion.

"In this case, the Civil Service Board found itself in the unfortunate position of having no good alternatives," read the opinion in part.  "We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' expression of frustration."

As I mentioned above, this matter is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which should rule on the case by the end of the term in late June.

That means this case will get a lot more play in the papers and a lot more attention at all levels.

And one question could certainly be, why did Sotomayor just sort of toss this case like a hot potato and not take a stand with a detailed opinion?

Right now, this firefighter case will be the biggest hot button issue that she faces in her confirmation fight, along with her videotaped comment about making policy on the bench.

Whether there are others, we'll see what develops in the weeks ahead.

Nothing is a slam dunk when it comes to Supreme Court nominees.

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