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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Judge Sotomayor and Business and Consumer Law

Yesterday, Alliance for Justice released a report and hosted a telebriefing for the press on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s business and consumer law record. Joining AFJ in the briefing were Prof. Eduardo Peñalver of Cornell University Law School and Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary, and National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

This report, the third in a series on Judge Sotomayor, examines her consumer and business law record, including labor and environmental law, bankruptcy, consumer protection and intellectual property among other issue areas. For those of you who are baseball fans, or simply curious about President Obama’s comments regarding Judge Sotomayor’s “saving baseball” you may find the section on labor law of interest.

The report examines the case Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Comm. Inc.; Judge Sotomayor ended the 1995 baseball strike by issuing an injunction against baseball owners - allowing the players to go back to work and the baseball season to begin.

“At the time the case was before Judge Sotomayor, the baseball strike was the longest work stoppage in professional sports history and had caused the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Judge Sotomayor ruled against the owners because after negotiations between the players and owners became difficult, the owners tried to unilaterally change the terms of the collective bargaining agreement under which the players had been working. Judge Sotomayor held that this was an unfair labor practice and issued an injunction to protect the public interest, to maintain public confidence in the country’s labor laws, to avoid irreparable injury to the players, and to put the players and owners in the same bargaining position they were in before the strike.”

Sally Greenberg and Eduardo Peñalver also provided insights on the broader lessons that can be gleaned from Judge Sotomayor's record in this area of the law. "Judge Sotomayor wants people to have their day in court, rather than letting inconsequential technicalities prevent people from being heard," observed Greenberg. "She meets issues of first impression with caution and careful analysis. She's very much in the tradition of a careful, respectful common law judge, much like the justice she will be replacing, David Souter," Peñalver noted.

The current economic climate means issues relating to business, bankruptcy, and consumer protection are more important than ever. Judge Sotomayor has extensive experience in these areas of the law and, as the report notes, her legal writings show her ability to “recognize the impact her decision will have on the parties involved in a case, [while betraying] no preset notions or biases.” You can read the full report here.

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