Sotomayor's Smackdown; A History of Activism on Behalf of Jackpot Justice

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It's no secret that the U.S. Supreme Court often shows a deep philosophical divide, 5-to-4, on cases of the greatest magnitude. It thus should raise eyebrows to know that the high court's justices once voted unanimously to slap down an opinion written by the very judge, Sonia Sotomayor, who has been nominated to join their ranks.

In the 2006 case of Merrill Lynch v. Dabit, all eight voting justices ruled that Judge Sotomayor had ignored or misconstrued a whole line of cases, stretching all the way back to 1971. (The ninth seat was unfilled, awaiting the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.) Judge Sotomayor erred in favor of what should be described as Jackpot Justice Inc., otherwise known as the group of plaintiffs' attorneys most prone to lawsuit abuse.

It wasn't one of the conservatives who wrote the decision overturning the ill-considered opinion that Judge Sotomayor had written for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals; the author was a fellow liberal: Justice John Paul Stevens. Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and David H. Souter all joined the more conservative Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John G. Roberts Jr. and Anthony M. Kennedy in what can only be described as a judicial version of a smackdown.

The case involved a rather dry analysis of securities laws rather than issues most of the public would recognize as crucially important. It's also true that fair examinations of Judge Sotomayor's whole record would show several cases in which she sided against the plaintiffs' bar so often favored by liberals. …