Esther Cepeda / Politics

Sotomayor's Surprise

CHICAGO -- When Sonia Sotomayor made history in 2009 by becoming the first Latina named to the Supreme Court, Hispanics were overjoyed.

Her story was a deeply satisfying one about the Bronx-bred daughter of Puerto Rican parents who, despite coming from humble means, made it to the big leagues of justice.

At that time, a little over two years after the last serious attempt at comprehensive bipartisan immigration law reform failed in the Senate, seeing a woman of the same ethnic group as millions of illegal immigrants who were being villainized gave some Hispanics a special feeling of connection to the American judicial process.

Wednesday, as news was breaking about how the court might be leaning after the Obama administration presented its oral arguments in favor of striking down Arizona's "papers, please" immigration law, you had to wonder whether the feelings were still so special.

Sotomayor was prominently featured in news stories topped by headlines describing the court as "sympathetic" and "receptive" to parts of the Arizona law, and "skeptical" of the Obama administration's arguments against it.

Judging from the lack of Hispanic comment on social media concerning Sotomayor's pointed questions to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. -- from those who were sure she'd bring a diverse (read: liberal Hispanic) viewpoint to the court -- I'd say the feelings were not so special.

Just scanning Twitter, you could see that it was primarily conservatives who were tweeting about Sotomayor. And in positive terms.

"Even Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor Shredded the Government's Case Against Arizona's Immigration Law" read a widely retweeted headline. "When even Sotomayor turns against you, that's a good indicator it's time to throw in the towel," said a tweet directed at the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization contesting the Arizona legislation.

A comment Sotomayor directed at Verrilli -- "You can see (your argument is) not selling very well" -- was a particularly popular retweet.

What a fascinating turn of events.

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Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group



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