One Cheer for Justice Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor is no libertarian. But she has turned out to be a good friend to the Fourth Amendment.


When President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace the retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2009, he listed Sotomayor's work as a New York City prosecutor as one of her biggest qualifications for the job. "Sonia learned what crime can do to a family and a community," Obama declared, "and what it takes to fight it."

For libertarians, it was an ominous statement. Would Sotomayor turn out to be yet another Supreme Court justice with an unduly deferential attitude toward law enforcement? It looked like a distinct possibility. As New York University law professor Kenji Yoshino told the Los Angeles Times in June 2009, "I think her experience as a prosecutor balances out her liberal tendencies."

But Sotomayor defied that expectation. In fact, over the past seven years, she has distinguished herself as one of the Supreme Court's most outspoken critics of police misconduct and one of its most consistent champions of the Fourth Amendment.

Take the 2015 case of Mullenix v. Luna, in which the Court granted qualified immunity to a police officer who used deadly force to end a high-speed car chase. In a lone dissent, Sotomayor lambasted her colleagues for "sanctioning a 'shoot first, think later' approach to policing [that] renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow."

That same year, during oral arguments in Rodriguez v. United States, Sotomayor practically read the riot act to a Justice Department lawyer who insisted that police officers be granted wide leeway to employ drug-sniffing dogs during traffic stops. "We can't keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement," said an exasperated Sotomayor. "What you're proposing," she lectured the government lawyer, is an approach that's "purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper."

Regrettably, Sotomayor is not always so vigilant when it comes to other parts of the Bill of Rights. In 2010, for instance, she dissented in McDonald v. Chicago, the landmark case in which the Second Amendment was first held to be applicable against state and local governments. In 2015, in Horne v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sotomayor dissented when the Court ruled against the USDA because it took raisins from raisin farmers without paying them just compensation as required by the Fifth Amendment.

As President Obama likes to say, let me be clear: Sonia Sotomayor is no libertarian. But she has turned out to be a good friend to the Fourth Amendment. That deserves a cheer.

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  1. If you protect any part of the Bill of Rights, you deserve a single cheer alright.

    Someday we might get justices that support most and/or all of the BOR. 3 Cheers!

    1. Would that be the same day the Libertarian Moment? is set to happen?

    2. Not to mention supporting the base Constitution itself.

    3. So she wants government control of our lives enforced by nicer police.

      Libertarian moment.

  2. “…not so vigilant when it comes to other parts of the Bill of Rights”

    You don’t say….

    So she’s good on holding the police accountable but ok with boot stoping on face interpretations of our other rights.

    That’s not fucking good enough…. In fact its fucking awful. But cosmotarians gotta swallow all that proggie shit to get invited to all the good parties….

    1. Read it less as a “she’s great” and a “well there’s an upside.”

      There aren’t that many hard core libertarians, we have to make temporary alliances.

    2. You didn’t get the snide tone in the title? People we like a lot get three cheers. If you shit on us some of the time but are occasionally good, eh, one cheer and two Bronx cheers.

      I’ll throw a fart her way on 2nd Amendment cases.

  3. That raisin case was …. mind boggling.

    “a requirement that growers set aside a certain percentage of their crop for the account of the Government, free of charge.” is not a “taking”. Derp.

    1. This is her idea of the market…

      “Government may condition the ability to offer goods in the market on the giving-up of certain property interests without effecting a per se taking. The Order is a similar regulation. It has no effect whatsoever on raisins that the Hornes grow for their own use. But insofar as the Hornes wish to sell some raisins in a market regulated by the Government and at a price supported by governmental intervention, the Order requires that they give up the right to sell a portion of those raisins at that price and instead accept disposal of them at a lower price.”

      If the Government gives you permission to participate in the market, they can make any conditions they want!!!!

      1. What do you think this is, the Road to Serfdom? From each according to his ability, to the garbage according to the state’s decree.

        1. “Road to Serfdom”……..Talking Heads?

      2. Participating in raisins is a privilege, not a right.

        1. “Those raisin? You didn’t grow that.”

      3. “the Order requires that they give up the right to sell a portion of those raisins at that price and instead accept disposal of them at a lower price.”

        +1 Venezuelan Christmas toy,…minus the outright theft…but they’re working on that.

      4. She is describing the economic system of the USSR! Brilliant!

      5. Its frustrating to read that.

        She’s right in that if you want to participate in a government program the government gets to call the tune.

        She’s horribly, stupidly, like completely moronically mistaken to liken the choice of either being in this program or not selling as not ‘a per se taking’.

        If you had the choice of selling your product with government price supports and selling it without and you chose with – that’s a choice, not a taking. Its the price of selling through that channel.

        If all other avenues are closed off except ‘don’t sell at all except through us’, the demand for a portion of the product is a fething taking.

    2. To me it seems like a tax.

  4. Isn’t it interesting how her ‘support’ for the Fourth Amendment seems to coincide with ALSO supporting the latinos in the case?

    That’s so strange coming from a justice who believes that being latino makes you special somehow, am I right?

    1. So the people being searched in US v. Jones, Utah v. Strieff, and Los Angeles v. Patel only got her to write noteworthy 4th Amendment opinions in their favor because they’re Latino? I think they’d be surprised to learn they’re Latino.

      1. Where does she come down on white Hispanics?

    2. Latinas are wise. It is known.

    3. No. It’s not interesting because you aren’t right.

  5. This is reading like ‘well Mussolini made the trains run on time’

    Are you serious? The Wise Latina thinks government can do whatever they want, she just doesn’t like it when police use the power the government has given them

  6. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.”


    1. Not so fast, the SC seems to find value in the commerce clause and the general health and welfare clause.

  7. The important thing is she brings diversity to the court. Do her rulings really matter at all?

    1. How? Plenty of other assholes already on the bench.

      1. And most assholes are already brown.

  8. I’m glad she likes one out of the 10 amendments.

    1. Like enthusiasts of Grey Poupon, she has discriminating tastes.

  9. She’s not pro-4th Amendment, she’s pro-criminal. It’s entirely consistent with leftist thought and the rest of her positions. There’s no contradiction.

    1. That’s a pretty bold assertion. Why do you think she is pro-criminal?

      1. I am being flip.

        1. The greatest problem with sarcasm is that it needs context.

        2. The greatest problem with sarcasm is that it needs context.

        3. The greatest problem with sarcasm is that it needs context.

  10. She was a pleasant surprise. But expectations were low.

  11. And if the Hornes proceeded to sell the raisins in violation of the Agri decree, what would the next governmental action be, and how can Sotomayer as well as the rest of the contortionists disregarding BoR intent, dismiss this as not a taking? Because you can be sure the Feds’ guns would guarantee it was.
    And Root wants to give a cheer?! Christ, I’m so sick of this staff, incapable of finding the way to liberty, insisting they are freedom proponents and continue to play the game of every statist who corrals them into arguing over trees while the Federal forest smothers them.
    No cheers for Root; no cheers for Reason. Either become libertarians or get the hell out.

  12. The root of the problem here, as with all of the justices, is that they do not subscribe to inalienable rights. Thus they pick and choose the rights that government must give you and those that government shouldn’t according to their personal preferences.

    Fuck. Them. All.

  13. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Sotomayor doesn’t decide against police officers because she respects the Constitution, but out of her “wise Latina” beliefs about social injustice.

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  15. Sotomayor is self-serving,she only tries to protect “her people”but in this case protected the rest of us.Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  16. “But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.”

    It’s not its own piece of paper, dios mio.

    1. And after all, she can still wipe her slimy cunt with it.

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