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June 30, 2009

CNN Commentary: Lucas A. Powe on Sotomayor’s reversal

Photo of Lucas A. Powe

Lucas A Powe Jr., Anne Green Regents Chair in Law and Professor of Government

University of Texas School of Law Professor Lucas A. Powe Jr. published a commentary on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ricci, et al., v. DeStefano, et al. on on Monday, June 29, 2009. Powe is the author of, most recently, The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789–2008.

Commentary: Sotomayor reversal not a first
By Lucas A. Powe Jr.
Special to CNN

AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) – Monday, in the much anticipated New Haven, Connecticut, firefighters’ case, the United States Supreme Court reversed an opinion joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

The reversal was expected and is not the first time an appointee has been reversed by the court he was about to join.

Indeed, two of Chief Justice Warren Burger’s opinions for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals were reversed in 1969, the year he joined the court. One was Watts v. United States, in which the defendant had been convicted for threatening the life of the president.

By a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that Watts’ supposed threats were really nothing but hyperbole. The decision came down one month before President Nixon nominated Burger. More significantly, after Burger had been confirmed, the Court reversed him again, this time in a major case -- Powell v. McCormack.

To read the entire article, see Commentary: Sotomayor reversal not a first.


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