Judicial Watch • Sotomayor’s “Undocumented Immigrant” A Supreme Court First

Sotomayor’s “Undocumented Immigrant” A Supreme Court First

Sotomayor’s “Undocumented Immigrant” A Supreme Court First

DECEMBER 10, 2009

Keeping with her race-conscious and activist judicial philosophy, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has made her Supreme Court debut by introducing a pair of new terms aimed at describing illegal immigrants in a more friendly and politically correct way.

A former top policy maker at the leftist Puerto Rico Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), Sotomayor used “undocumented immigrant” and “undocumented worker” in lieu of illegal immigrant in her first opinion (Mohawk Industries, Inc. vs. Carpenter) as a Supreme Court Justice. The Supreme Court had never before used the phrase “undocumented immigrant” though “illegal immigrant” has appeared in a dozen decisions.

Liberal legal scholars and immigration advocates are cheering Sotomayor’s choice of words, praising her as a jurist who has made a difference by penning just one opinion. A well-known California public university law professor wrote on his legal blog that Sotomayor has added significantly to the Supreme Court’s dialogue on immigration, which is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future.

This sort of inappropriate activism by a high-ranking judge his hardly new, though it’s largely unprecedented on the nation’s High Court. Just last year the chief justice of Arizona’s Supreme Court got blasted for enforcing the Hispanic Bar Association’s demands of banning the terms “illegal” and “aliens” in all of the state’s courtrooms. 

Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, who has since stepped down, agreed with the influential Latino attorney group (known as Los Abogados) that the terms are dehumanizing and inflammatory and ordered judges statewide to stop using them at trails or hearings because they create perceptions of judicial bias. Among the acceptable terms, according to the directive, are “foreign nationals,” “unauthorized workers” and “human rights advocates.”

As for Sotomayor, this first opinion is certain to be a tiny snippet of what lies ahead. Since President Obama announced her nomination earlier this year, Judicial Watch has extensively investigated her storied judicial career and published a series of informative documents detailing her improper political activities as well as her prejudicial and racial comments over the years. Click here to read all about it.  

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