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Nuyoricans Say Sotomayor A Voice for Community

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nuyoricans are brimming with pride at the nomination of New York federal court judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, and she grew up in the Bronxdale Houses in the South Bronx. Cesar Perales, president of the Latino Justice Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, says she'll give a national voice to the Hispanic community. He takes issue with anonymous critics who told the New Republic that Sotomayor was a "bully" on the bench who did not ask hard questions.

PERALES: I frankly get upset that they are raising what I would call these stereotypical implications. You know, "A Latina can’t possibly as smart as the white men on this court." To suggest somehow that she’s not even-tempered, again, I think raises the worst of stereotypes.

Sotomayor has also stirred controversy for saying judges make decisions based on their personal backgrounds, as well as their legal experience.

However, legal experts say the fanfare among the Latino and civil rights communities may be premature. Professor Eric Freedman teaches constitutional law at Hofstra Law School and says Sotomayor has had a moderate record during her 17 years on the bench.

FREEDMAN: Sotomayor is a moderate, mainstream judge. Her approach to any problem is to see how it's appropriately disposed of within the contours of existing law, rather than to re-write the existing law.

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