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Democrats Defend Sotomayor Over Firefighter Ruling

Democrats moved quickly to counter GOP criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s involvement in a controversial affirmative action decision that was thrown out by the high court on Monday.In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — a member of the Judiciary Committee — argued the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano should not be seen as a rebuke of Sotomayor’s judicial temperament, but rather an indication that she is a moderate jurist who was simply following precedent.Schumer argued that while Republicans have warned “she will be an activist judge, this case clearly shows she won’t. She’ll be a moderate … her whole career on the 2nd Circuit is one of modesty,— Schumer argued.The Supreme Court overturned the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision upholding the New Haven, Conn., fire department’s decision not to promote white firefighters out of concern that the promotion test was biased.Since precedent in the 2nd Circuit existed for the lower court to rule against the white firefighters, Democrats have argued that Sotomayor was simply following the rule of law and that precedent.Schumer and others maintain those are the exact qualities that Republicans have called for and have sought to make the decision an affirmation of her qualifications rather than a mark against her.Republicans, meanwhile, were expected Monday night to take up the decision during a national “tele-townhall— featuring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.).The telephone call-in event is sponsored by the Judicial Conformation Network.

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