Sotomayor's Nomination Backed

— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff

NASW's first action alert went out May 6, requesting that members ask Obama to appoint a Supreme Court justice who reflects the nation's diversity. The alert noted that in the 2000 Census, 12.3 percent of the population identified as black or African American, 12.5 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino and 3.6 percent identified as Asian.

It also pointed out that minorities will comprise 54 percent of the U.S. population by 2050.

NASW requested that members "contact President Obama in support of a Supreme Court justice who reflects our diverse nation, as well as one that protects the interests of America's marginalized."

In response to that action alert, 787 members sent letters.

On June 3, a second action alert requested that members ask the Senate to confirm Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, and 2,532 members sent letters.

The alert noted facts about Sotomayor's background: She graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then entered private practice in 1984. She was a federal trial judge on the U.S. District Court and an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

"In her 17 years on the bench, Judge Sotomayor's legal opinions reflect the passion and commitment to enrich the lives of ordinary Americans while also reaching conclusions that improve America as a country founded on Democratic ideals and principles. Judge Sotomayor and her extensive legal work, in the view of social work, appeals to our nation and can provide insight on those issues which divide America and undermine the lives of vulnerable populations," the alert said.

NASW sent a letter to Obama on June 2. Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark wrote: "On behalf of the 150,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers, I am pleased to support your nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor has issued several rulings important to us as social workers, and boldly dissented on cases in which individual rights were not fully appreciated by the majority."

A similar letter went out to each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee the next day, June 3.

On June 12, NASW distributed an official statement on the nomination of Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, announcing that the association was actively supporting her confirmation. The statement went to 23 media outlets, as well as to a number of organizations, many of them social work organizations.

"Judge Sotomayor would bring increased diversity to the Court. Like all deliberative bodies, the Court functions best when it considers a broad range of perspectives," it said. "This leads to rulings that cover the rights and interests of many oppressed, underserved and underrepresented groups. Judge Sotomayor's decisions have proven that she is not just an example of such diversity, but also a champion of it."

The statement pointed out that Sotomayor issued a number of rulings that social workers support, such as upholding the rights of citizens to sue corporations acting on behalf of the federal government when a corporation has violated citizens' rights.

"Judge Sotomayor's record ... reflects a sophisticated grasp of legal doctrine and an astute awareness of the law's impact upon average Americans," Clark said.

"Judge Sotomayor's life experiences and wealth of knowledge suggest that social work's core values would be equitably represented in the Supreme Court deliberations. America deserves a justice of this enormous stature."