Archive for June 6th, 2009

lawschoolphpShe’s tough, tenacious, smart and demonstrated a willingness to take the Government to task.  I’m talking about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

She’s served on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for 10 years, heard over 3,000 cases and written over 380 opinions.  She has associated herself with and championed the cause of society’s oppressed and outcast. Sotomayor has written and spoke many times about her identity as a Puerto Rican and the “shock” she and others felt at the less-than-lofty place they held in America’s social fabric.  However, her writings are not limited to concerns about people who share her background. Sotomayor has often commiserated with other “minorities” who — through no fault of their own — found themselves disadvantaged.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently released papers which outline how Sotomayor has dealt with labels, discrimination or the bias of stereotypes.  She has taken strong anti-Government positions in several decisions including one case involving the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC).  The NYTimes reported in the 1994 case which Judge Sotomayor presided over, that jurors found in favor of the Motorcycle Club rejecting the government’s efforts to seize the 77 East Third Street clubhouse.  A federal lawsuit was filed under a 1984 law allowing the Government to seize property used in drug trafficking.  At the time the New York City Chapter of the motorcycle club was incorporated under NY state law as a religious, nonprofit organization, and the group that fought the seizure was formally known as the Church of Angels.

Given recent West Coast law enforcement events against motorcycle clubs that seems to be challenging the First Amendment’s guarantee to peacefully assemble, which the Court has interpreted to include “freedom of association”…. and other important issues like a motorcycle club’s identifying patches as a protected form of free speech…. being a motorcycle enthusiast who has faced two-wheel discrimination by public officials I applaud Sotomayor.  She has worked tirelessly for an America who often has a deeply confused image of itself that is in perpetual tension.

Photo courtesy of irreference.com

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