Teachers’ Unions Back Judge Sotomayor

By Erik W. Robelen — August 05, 2009 2 min read
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With the U.S. Senate seemingly poised to approve Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court later this week, the pile of letters in support and against the president’s nominee has grown pretty high.

Both national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, were among the dozens of groups to sign a July 27 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging a “yes” vote for Judge Sotomayor. (The NEA had actually first announced its support in a June 30 press release.)

“During her long tenure on the federal judiciary, Judge Sotomayor has ... demonstrated a thorough understanding of a wide range of highly complicated legal issues, and has a strong reputation for deciding cases based upon the careful application of the law to the facts of cases. Her record and her inspiring personal story indicate that she understands the judiciary’s role in protecting the rights of all Americans, in ensuring equal justice, and in respecting our constitutional values--all within the confines of the law.”

Other groups that signed this letter include the American Association of University Women, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Urban League, and People for the American Way.

Meanwhile, more than 20 professors of special education law, disability law, and disability rights law wrote in favor of Judge Sotomayor in a June 30 letter.

“A review of Judge Sotomayor’s record on disability law issues indicates that she has an excellent understanding of the various laws’ application to people with disabilities in various contexts. ... Judge Sotomayor’s record shows that she takes a balanced, thoughtful approach to disability issues. Her analysis is consistently thorough, practical, and respectful of individual rights. In close cases, she does not appear to follow any particular ideology or activist agenda.”

The only letter in opposition I could find from a K-12 education organization per se came from the American Association of Christian Schools, based in East Ridge, Tenn. The group, which describes itself as “a national coalition of Bible-believing Christian schools,” said it was concerned that she would not bring impartiality to the court and has demonstrated a “misinterpretation of the rule of law and the United State Constitution.” The group also said it was concerned about her “interpretation on the right to life.”

If I’ve missed any other letters of note, let me know by posting a comment.

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