As every student can testify, school's been in session for weeks now. But for the Supreme Court, the new terms starts today with Sonia Sotomayor joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the bench. Not since Sandra Day O'Connor's departure in 2005 has the Court seen two women associate justices in the mix.
While the Associated Press has been merrily contrasting Sotomayor with previous justices and highlighting her salsa dancing, karaoke singing, and baseball pitching escapades over the past two months, she is expected to work as hard as she plays. She'll be bringing more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court justice over the past 100 years. And although she was painted as a freewheeling liberal by GOP conservatives, she is not expected to push the court towards the left.
What should we be looking forward to as this 2009-2010 term begins? Here's what some of the leading media outlets think Sotomayor will do in her first term on the Supreme Court:
- "Vote in ways similar to David Souter" -- Christian Science Monitor
- "Move the court to the right" -- Washington Post
- "Unlikely to affect the outcome or alter the terms of debate in two...cases that probably will dominate" -- Fox News
- "Aggressively question lawyers during oral arguments" -- NY Daily News
One thing she'll definitely do. She'll be the one to answer the knock on the door when the justices are in private conferences. It's part of the newbie ritual of the Supreme Court.
And something she may do -- if she follows the lead of her predecessor Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- is wear a white lace collar under her authoritative black judges robe. Apparently Ginsburg, who favors these collars and collects them, gave a decorative one to Sotomayor last month.
Whatever she may choose to do, despite the rampant gender and racial bias exhibited during the nomination and confirmation process, today Sonia Sotomayor is finally going to have her day in court.