| BOSTON -- The following Suffolk University Law professors are available to share their expertise as the U.S. Senate begins hearings July 13 on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court:
• Robert Smith teaches Constitutional Law, Mediation, Supreme Court Seminar and Clinical Teaching. He also served as dean of the Law School from 1999 to 2007. Smith is the author of “Justice Souter Joins the Rehnquist Court: An Empirical Study of Supreme Court Voting patterns,” 41 KANSAS L. REV. 11 (1992).
He has pointed out that Sotomayor fits the preferred profile presented by President Obama – himself a constitutional law professor – of judicial appointees who understand the consequences of court decisions for real people. Smith predicts that having a justice on the Supreme Court who has some different perspectives will add to the richness of the court’s discussion and consideration of cases. Refuting critics who represent Sotomayor as a far-left activist judge, Smith says her decision, made as part of a three-judge panel, that negated a firefighters civil service exam, confirms her as a moderate liberal.
He has discussed the implications of David Souter’s resignation and the Sotomayor nomination with radio and television reporters. Among Smith’s professional affiliations is the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
• Michael Avery teaches Constitutional Law, Individual Rights, Evidence and Scientific Evidence. Avery is the author of We Dissent: Talking Back to the Rehnquist Court.
As a civil rights lawyer, Avery sees a conservative orientation in Sonia Sotomayor. He has reviewed 100 Sotomayor cases having to do with civil rights and observed that in most instances she ruled in favor of government entities.
In an online comment before she was nominated, which was chosen as a New York Times editor's selection, Avery wrote that there is no liberal wing on the U.S. Supreme Court and that the president "needs to find someone much more grounded in the struggle for civil rights than … Sonia Sotomayor to bring a truly liberal voice to the Court. He should be looking at lawyers in the civil rights community to find someone who can bring the voice of Thurgood Marshall back to the Court."
Avery has served as president of the National Lawyers Guild; board member and general counsel of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; chairperson of the Civil Liberties Committee, National Lawyers Guild; and national council member of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee.
• Renée M. Landers teaches Health Law and Administrative Law. She recently published, with New England School of Law professor Lawrence Friedman, "New Diversity' Needed for Supreme Court Nominees," a guest column in JURIST. The column argued that, unless presidents embrace a broader view of "diversity" in future Supreme Court nominations, they may deprive the public of justices who see the world and the legal issues it presents differently and more helpfully than justices whose views on law are shaped by essentially similar educational and professional experiences. [see link to article below]
Landers discussed the implications of David Souter’s resignation from the Supreme Court in May with Greater Boston media outlets. Landers is a past president of the Boston Bar Association and vice chair of the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct.
• Victoria Dodd teaches Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Education Law and Federal Courts. Among her publications are “The 2007 Roberts Court Education Law Cases: Reaffirmation or Cut-Back of Student Rights?” 42 SUFFOLK L. REV. 61 (2008) and “The Education Justice: The Honorable Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.,” 29 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 683 (2001).
Dodd is particularly interested in assessing the impact that Sotomayor's future opinions may have on Supreme Court decisions in various areas of constitutional law, including civil rights and liberties issues, affirmative action and the commerce clause. She also is interested in discussing Sotomayor's overall approach to judicial decision-making and in comparing her possible approaches with those of the current court as well as past Supreme Court justices.
Dodd hosted an hour-long radio program concerning the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and she has commented on Supreme Court decisions and issues in interviews with print and television reporters.