MEDIA ADVISORY: U.Va. Law Professors Available to Talk About U.S. Supreme Court Appointee Sotomayor

May 26, 2009 — The following University of Virginia law professors are available to talk about how the Supreme Court could change in the wake of the appointment of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She would be the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice if confirmed.

A.E. Dick Howard
White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs
Earle K. Shawe Research Professor

An expert in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism and the Supreme Court, A.E. Dick Howard was a law clerk to Justice Hugo L. Black and has studied the court's move to the right. Howard was executive director of the commission that wrote Virginia's current constitution and has been counsel to the General Assembly of Virginia. He has been a consultant to state and federal bodies, including the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. From 1982 to 1986 he served as counselor to the governor of Virginia, and he chaired Virginia's Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

Of Sotomayor, Howard says:

"Judge Sotomayor fits perfectly into President Obama's search for a justice who would bring 'empathy' to the court. To the extent that a 'life story' matters, she certainly has that – up from a public housing project in the Bronx to Princeton University and Yale Law School.

"For those who look at the court from the standpoint of how well it reflects America's diverse population, she will, of course, be the court's first Hispanic. Ironically, her appointment means that, as before, the court will continue to be made up of nine justices, every one of whom sat on a federal court of appeals before being elevated to the Supreme Court. Also, her accession to the court will mean that seven of the nine justices will still have law degrees from Harvard or Yale.

"From the standpoint of the court's jurisprudence, replacing one liberal justice, Souter, with another, Sotomayor, is not likely to tip the court's balance. It may be, however, that Sotomayor will be a more aggressive and challenging voice for the court's more liberal justices. The last Warren Court-style liberals left the court with the retirement of Justices Brennan and Marshall almost 20 years ago. Might Justice Sotomayor provide a counter-balance to Justice Scalia? If so, the court will be a livelier place for her joining its ranks."

Related media quotes:
* "Kennedy Rules; Supreme Court Strikes Down Handgun Ban" (Bloomberg, 06/27/2008)
* "U.S. Supreme Court: Next President Could Shift the Law on Abortion, Affirmative Action" (Lawyers USA, 12/03/2007)
* "U.S. Supreme Court's Swing to Right" (BBC News, 10/01/2007)

Risa Goluboff
Professor of Law
Professor of History
Caddell & Chapman Research Professor

Risa Goluboff teaches constitutional law, civil rights litigation and legal history. Her scholarship focuses on the history of civil rights, labor and constitutional law in the 20th century. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Related media quotes:
* "The Battle Over Brown/How Conservatives Appropriated Brown v. Board of Education" (author; Slate, 7/2/2007)
* "Commentary: The Real World/Why Judicial Philosophies Matter" (co-author, Slate, 2/7/2005)

G. Edward White
David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law

G. Edward White, an expert in Supreme Court history and constitutional law, clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a fellow of the Society of American Historians, and a member of the American Law Institute. He has written books on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Chief Justice Warren and numerous articles on the Supreme Court.

Related media quotes:
* "High Court Becomes More Media Friendly" (Associated Press, 12/25/2006)
* "Supreme Switch/Did FDR's Threat to 'Pack' the Court in 1937 Really Change the Course of Constitutional History?" (The Boston Globe, 12/04/2005)
* "Supreme Court/You Say You Want a Revolution" (National Journal, 07/29/2005)