Eric M. Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, was quoted in the following article in Newsweek.
‘No Buried Skeletons’ in Sotomayor’s Law Review
As the digging into Sonia Sotomayor’s background (every word uttered, every acquaintance, every sentence written) continues apace, let us add to the record. Professor Eric M. Freedman of Hofstra Law School graduated alongside Sotomayor from Yale Law School ’79, and served on the law review with her. He spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Brooke Brown about his former classmate. Excerpts:
How much interaction have you had with Sotomayor over the years?
I guess we were in close contact for two years, and our paths have crossed subsequently for various professional reasons. All of the colorful anecdotes about Sotomayor string together to form a life pattern of indulgent performance of the assigned role. I think that is the overall quality and theme that one can realistically look for in the future. To try and handicap particular decisions and cases will result in the noise overwhelming the signal.
During that time, what personal qualities did Sotomayor display that impressed you most?
Her mission has been to do her jobs to the best possible level, rather than redefining what the job is. I think that’s a trait that is very helpful to her in her new role because she does not come in trying to recreate the legal framework, but [to] work effectively within it. That is something that all existing justices of the Supreme Court appreciate.
Sotomayor’s record has not revealed much about her stance on hot topics like same-sex marriage and abortion. Did Sotomayor ever reveal any thoughts on the issues?
Her law review note was about an obscure legal doctrine which has aroused no attention–academic, judicial or otherwise–in the last 30 years. It had to do with law relating to the status of Puerto Rico; there are no buried skeletons in there. She was at that time working on a scholarly project that she did in a thoughtful, scholarly meticulous way. And that should be telling of her future performance.
Sotomayer has been a diabetic since childhood. In your experience, did her diabetes ever have a notable affect on her work?
I would say the exact same thing people who have observed her in the last 30 years would say: her condition has never had an effect on her performance. It is obviously a non-issue not only from us lay observers, but was a matter that was fully investigated before her nomination.
The White House noted that Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years. Your reaction?
It is plainly good for the court and country for a justice to have exactly the variety of experiences … that we urge all of our graduating law students to have. It … always enriches one’s ability to make decisions and that’s certainly true of this particular job. Looking back historically on the justices of the Supreme Court, those who today have the highest historical reputation tend to be those who managed to get a variety of a legal experiences early on in their career. So her varied experience is certainly a strong plus.