Sotomayor gets local praise

Mesa County legal circles Tuesday had positive reviews for the nation’s possible first Hispanic justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This, as several local attorneys said they knew next to nothing about federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor and her application of the law.

“It’s nice to see consideration given to someone with a Latino background, which was long overdue,” said attorney Ed Nugent, president of the Mesa County Bar Association.

Sotomayor was introduced Tuesday as President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

“She appears well qualified and an excellent choice,” Nugent said. “You want someone with a good judicial temperament and who’s intellectually superior in their field.”

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he was heartened by the lack of “alarming e-mails” once news of Sotomayor’s nomination spread Tuesday.

Hautzinger said he was encouraged by Sotomayor’s background. The 54-year-old was a prosecutor and private attorney before being appointed in 1998 to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

“It’s always good to have state prosecutors on the bench,” said Hautzinger, who claims recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions fail to account for “the impact out on the street for law enforcement.”

In one of her most notable decisions as an appellate judge, Sotomayor decided last year with the City of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case brought by white firefighters. The city threw out the results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough. Coincidentally, that case is now before the Supreme Court.

As a federal district judge in 1995, Sotomayor also ruled with Major League Baseball players over owners in a labor strike.

Sotomayor hasn’t written any opinions on abortion rights.

In 2002, however, as a federal appeals court judge, she ruled against an abortion rights group that had challenged a government policy prohibiting foreign organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or supporting abortions. In her opinion,

Sotomayor wrote that the government was free to favor the anti-abortion position over a pro-choice position when public funds were involved.

Ted Tow, executive director for the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, said his organization didn’t have enough information about Sotomayor to offer an opinion on the nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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