The Sonia Sotomayor speculation games have definitely begun! Ever since her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, policy nerds, pundits, and blearly-eyed bloggers have been in a “wonkadelic” frenzy over who Judge Sotomayor is and how she’s likely to rule on various issues.
Of course, we’re particularly interested in where Sotomayor stands when it comes to battles with the business community—and on that issue, for the most part, the jury appears to be out. Still, we’ve been keeping our ears to the ground—so we thought we’d share a little about what we're hearing.
What the Media is Saying
• CNNMoney.com reported that Sotomayor is a “moderate” when it comes to business issues. BusinessWeek said the same thing.
• The New York Times characterized Sotomayor’s business opinions as “unpredictable.”
• The Wall Street Journal reported that “in business cases, a portrait of Sotomayor” was beginning to emerge—but it didn’t do much to clarify what that “portrait” was.
The Business Community Is Deeply Divided
• A very alarmed Michael Greve, writing for the National Review Online, said Sotomayor was “among the most aggressively pro-plaintiff, anti-business appellate judges in the country.”
• An old friend of ours over at Dick Cheney’s “favorite thinktank” seemed amused by such dire imaginings, saying Sotomayor “will not be as liberal as many Republicans are saying—but no one could be that liberal even if they tried.”
• Reps from the big corporate law firm Mayer Brown, (perhaps best known in recent times for representing Stoneridge and Philip Morris) say Sotomayor is a “moderate” when it comes to business issues, and that there’s no reason for the business community “to be alarmed or concerned.”
• Robin Conrad, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s litigation arm expressed “guarded optimism” about the president’s pick.
Sotomayor on Preemption
• Evan Tager from Mayer Brown told BusinessWeek that Sotomayor has been “evenhanded in cases raising federal preemption as a defense, finding preemption about half the time and rejecting preemption about half the time.” Keeping with the Mayer Brown talking points, his colleague, Lauren Goldman, said the same thing.
• Roger Parloff, writing for CNNMoney.com, mused that Sotomayor “might actually offer a more receptive ear to business than Justice Souter did,” given Souter’s prior experience as a New Hampshire State AG and judge.
Sotomayor on Punitive Damages
• Evan Tager said that “Sotomayor has ‘expressed unease’ about large punitive awards, yet has upheld large awards ‘when the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages is modest.’” Regardless, given Souter’s Exxon Valdez decision in which he suggested in a footnote that punitive damages should perhaps be capped at a 1:1 ratio with compensatory ones, whatever Sotomayor’s position, it’s hard to believe it could be any worse.