Despite a slim gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender caseload, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor's pro-gay
credentials have increased with the release of new documents.
Sotomayor, President Obama's pick to
fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice David Souter,
has a scant history of ruling on gay issues. She's heard three cases
involving gay men who sought amnesty in the U.S. because they feared
persecution if they returned home. Neither of these cases dealt with
gay rights per se, focusing on immigration law instead, according to
a report by gay weekly Gay
The fourth case dealt with
discrimination based on sexual orientation. It involved a straight
Roman Catholic priest who alleged sexual abuse at the hands of
archdiocese officials in New York. The federal appeals court agreed
with a lower court ruling that dismissed the case because federal law
does not recognize sexual orientation as a protected class.
But new documents released this week by
the White House paint a more gay friendly profile of the Latina
One document introduced to the Senate
Judiciary Committee charged with reviewing her nomination is a 1976
letter co-signed by Sotomayor while at Princeton.
“For private citizens to try to
intimidate the Gay Alliance into silence is a denial of the
foundations on which a university is built,” the letter reads.
The letter, published on February 27,
1976 in the school's daily The Daily Princetonian, is a
response by 39 individuals to an attack on two gay students who were
members of the Gay Alliance of Princeton. On February 21, the
student's dorm room was ransacked to intimidate the pair.
“No matter how much one may disagree
with the Gay Alliance or the policies they are advocating, no matter
how repugnant one may find homosexuality, the manner of expressing
this opposition should be intellectual. At this university we are
dedicated to persuasion by reason, not by brute force.”
“We hope that freedom of expression
on this campus is still intact. We must keep it that way by
supporting all forms of expression, not just those with which we are
comfortable,” reads the letter addressed to the university's
Social conservatives have attacked
Sotomayor's nomination, labeling her an “activist” judge, despite
evidence to the contrary; her opinions do not overreach and she does
not harbor an extreme ideology.
But the letter is certain to provide
fodder for social conservatives attempting to pin a judicial activist
label on Sotomayor as her nomination moves forward.