Judicial Watch Releases Special Report on Judge Sotomayor’s Connection to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund
JUNE 17, 2009
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released a new special report on Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor and her connection to the leftist Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Sotomayor served as the "top policy maker" on the PRLDEF’s Board of Directors for twelve years, 1980-1992, until she became a federal judge.
According to the Special Report: "The PRLDEF bills itself as an organization that provides legal services to the Latino community. However, the organization’s activities reflect a commitment to the worst aspects of liberal judicial activism: identity politics, race baiting, and ethnic favoritism."
The following is a partial list of the PRLDEF’s activities during Judge Sotomayor’s tenure as described in Judicial Watch’s Special Report:
- In 1990, the PRLDEF attacked then-New York Mayor David Dinkins after the mayor labeled three Puerto Rican "nationalists" who shot five members of Congress in 1954 "assassins." The radicals were members of a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN). The PRLDEF said the mayor’s comments "lacked sensitivity." Reuben Franco, President of the PRLDEF said: "[Mayor Dinkins] doesn’t recognize that to many people in Puerto Rico, these are fighters for freedom and justice…"
- In 1988, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund engaged in a battle with the New York City Police Department over its "racist" promotion exam, ultimately presiding over a radical redesign to allow more minorities to achieve a passing grade. According to The New York Times: "The new test, a four-part exam prepared with the help of an expert designated by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund…involved changes in format, including the addition of open-book questions and a video portion."
- In 1981, the PRLDEF filed a complaint against Elizabeth, New Jersey Mayor Thomas Dunn following a City Hall directive requiring staff to speak English while on the job. In 1990, the organization also opposed a law to require merchants to post an English sign in the storefront explaining the nature of business.
- In a March 1981 memo to the directors of the PRLDEF, Sotomayor and two colleagues argued against the death penalty because it is, "associated with evident racism in our society" and because it "creates inhuman psychological burdens for the offender." The memo, which Sotomayor initially failed to turn over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued that the PRLDEF should oppose the restoration of the death penalty in New York State.
- In 1981, the PRLDEF applauded a decision by a federal judge that forced teachers at an Ann Arbor Michigan elementary school to undergo "consciousness raising" about a dialect spoken by young black children called "Black English." The training program cost taxpayers $44,000.
During her 12-year tenure, according to one former staff lawyer, "Sonia [Sotomayor] displayed an increasing amount of leadership on the board." The New York Times, meanwhile, characterized Sotomayor as the "top policy maker" on the PRLDEF Board of Directors, who "was an involved and ardent supporter of [the PRLDEF’s] various legal efforts during her time with the group."
"In Judge Sotomayor, Obama offers the personal embodiment of his liberal judicial activist philosophy that places ’empathy’ above the rule of law. Judge Sotomayor’s leadership positions with the PRLDEF suggest she is more than willing to advance a liberal, race-based agenda through the court system. And for this Judge Sotomayor owes an explanation to the American people," stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.