On the Lookout for Education at Sotomayor Hearing

By Mark Walsh — July 12, 2009 1 min read
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The confirmation hearing for Judge Sonia Sotomayor gets under way Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The School Law Blog will be there, and we’ll be on the lookout for questions about the Supreme Court nominee’s views on education law issues.

As a reminder, Education Week’s Erik Robelen reported on Judge Sotomayor’s key education rulings here, and I blogged here about some additional cases.

In my experience covering five Supreme Court nominations, questions about education inevitably come up, although often deep into the days of the hearing.

However, one high-profile issue expected to come up early for Judge Sotomayor is her role in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, which involved the city of New Haven, Conn.'s refusal to certify the employment tests of white and Hispanic applicants for promotion in its fire department because back applicants performed poorly on the exams.

Judge Sotomayor was on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that upheld the city’s action last year. The Supreme Court last month reversed the 2nd Circuit and held that the city’s actions discarding the employment tests violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I blogged about the implications of that decision for education here.

The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee intend to call former New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff who challenged the city’s refusal to certify the tests, as a witness against Sotomayor. (The full witness list is on the committee’s Web site.)

Also on the Judiciary Committee’s Web site is a starting point for looking at Sotomayor’s committee questionnaire and other background materials.

Meanwhile, the SCOTUSBlog Web site has a good collection of reports analyzing Sotomayor’s judicial record, including many that touch on education cases that have come before her.

In a profile of Sotomayor in The Washington Post on Sunday, the paper touches on the judge’s background at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. While other girls wore anti-Vietnam war buttons pinned to their school blazers, Sotomayor did not, the Post reports.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.