Will Sonia Sotomayor be Tougher on Crime than David Souter?


The Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin and Nathan Koppel report that when it comes to questions of criminal justice, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor tilts to the right of retiring Justice David Souter:

She "has contributed greatly to law enforcement in New York" as a judge, said Leroy Frazer Jr., first assistant district attorney in Manhattan and a former colleague of Judge Sotomayor.

After Yale Law School, Judge Sotomayor joined the Manhattan district attorney's office. She spent five years at the office, and handled high-profile murder and child-pornography cases.

New York criminal-defense lawyers say she is surprisingly tough on crime for a Democratic-backed appointee—a byproduct, they believe, of her tenure as a prosecutor….

In the Fourth Amendment case in 1999, Judge Sotomayor ruled against Anthony Santa, who was sentenced to 30 months after officers in Spring Valley, N.Y., arrested him and found 2.95 grams of crack cocaine.

Mr. Santa's lawyer said the arrest and search were improper, because officers were acting on a warrant from a neighboring town that had been canceled two years earlier. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that such mistakes didn't invalidate evidence if court officials were responsible. The issue of responsibility was in dispute in this case, but Judge Sotomayor's ruling assumed the police had acted appropriately and upheld the sentence.

Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford Law School professor who was on the losing side of the January Supreme Court decision [upholding the admission of evidence seized by police who mistakenly believed they had an arrest warrant], says Judge Sotomayor's ruling demonstrates a "willingness to give police the benefit of the doubt."

Rest here. Via the Cato Institute's Tim Lynch, who comments, "Good grief—that would mean that for Sotomayer just about all the barriers on state power come tumbling down: structural safeguards like enumerated powers, non-delegation, separation of powers and the limits pertaining to police and prosecutorial powers."