News Release: Faculty Experts, Law, Politics

May 26,  2009

Expert: Supreme Court Pick Sotomayor Reflects Political Savvy

A first-term president is "always campaigning," says constitutional law expert Robert Schapiro of Emory Law, so the nomination of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic, should not come as a surprise.

Supreme Court watchers, including Schapiro, have been expecting the same political savvy that got the chief executive elected to guide the president's first nomination to the high court.

President Barack Obama has shown centrist tendencies, says Schapiro, pointing to his support of the court's decision in the D.C. v. Heller case upholding the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Obama also criticized the decision in the Kennedy v. Louisiana case holding it unconstitutional to apply the death penalty to child rapists.

"Those instincts toward moderation apply to Supreme Court appointments as well," Schapiro says. Most had speculated that the next appointment would be a woman, and Schapiro had expected Sotomayor "to be at the top of anyone's list." 

Schapiro served as a clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Pierre N. Leval, then of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is the author of a new book, "Polyphonic Federalism," arguing that the relationship between the states the national government is among the most contested issues in the United States.

Contact Robert Schapiro, 404.727.1103.

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