By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2009 ( – A Supreme Court decision today overturning a ruling issued by Sonia Sotomayor has fueled criticism of President Obama's Supreme Court nomination. Critics are pointing to the ruling as further proof of Sotomayor's penchant for leftist identity politics. 

If confirmed, Sotomayor would likely bring a pro-abortion vote to the top of America's judicial system in replacing Justice David Souter, who retires from the Supreme Court today.  

The case Ricci v. DeStefano involved eighteen New Haven white firefighters, including one Hispanic, who complained of “reverse discrimination” after the city refused to grant their test-based promotion because not enough black firefighters had qualified for promotion based upon their test results. The city said that it was afraid of a lawsuit.

Judge Sotomayor had ruled in favor of the city in her role as federal appeals court judge last year; but the Supreme Court has now voted 5-4 to reverse the decision.  Justice Souter was among the dissenting judges.

The Ricci case has been watched closely in connection with Sotomayor's path to the Supreme Court, as the nominee has become well-known for highlighting racial and gender divides: critics have pointed to several speeches in which Sotomayor affirmed that “a wise Latina woman” would “more often than not” interpret the law better than a white male.

While little direct evidence exists of Sotomayor's pro-abortion ideology, the Latina judge has ties to several aggressively pro-abortion briefs issued by an interest group while Sotomayor served as a board member. 

Sotomayor was described by colleagues in a New York Times article as “an involved and ardent supporter” of the legal efforts of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, in the years that the Fund called on the Supreme Court not to “overturn or in any way restrict” the “fundamental right” to abortion as defined in Roe v. Wade.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll Sunday, 62 percent of Americans surveyed support Sotomayor's elevation to the court.  

Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination are expected to begin July 13.

See related coverage:

More Briefs Surface Showing Sotomayor's Abortion Ties

Senator: Sotomayor Says She “Never Thought About” Rights of Unborn

Brief Linked to Sotomayor Endorses “Fundamental Right” to Abortion


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