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Could Sotomayor Push the Supreme Court to the Right on Criminal Justice Issues?

Here’s an interesting, under-reported twist on Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial record: she’s apparently a conservative when it comes to criminal justice.

The Wall Street Journal reports today:

New York criminal-defense lawyers say she is surprisingly tough on crime for a Democratic-backed appointee — a byproduct, they believe, of her tenure as a prosecutor.

Makes sense. She may also have been influenced by growing up in a poor and crime-ridden neighborhood in the Bronx. Whatever the reason, she could push the Supreme Court rightward in its rulings on rights of criminal defendants.

As the Journal’s Jess Bravin and Nathan Koppell write:

The Supreme Court’s five conservatives in January held that it was acceptable for prosecutors to use evidence seized by police who mistakenly thought they had a warrant to arrest a suspect.

Justice David Souter dissented, as did the other liberals on the court. But Judge Sotomayor, nominated to succeed Justice Souter, ruled in favor of the police in a similar case 10 years ago. In that case, the judge upheld an arrest and search that never would have happened if police and court officials had kept accurate records.

While it’s impossible to know how she would rule if a case like that came before her today, it does suggest a conservatism on an important issue that until now has been largely overlooked.

*TWI is on Twitter. Please follow us here. *

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