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President Obama nominates NY Judge to the Supreme Court

Today the US President announced that he is nominating federal judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York for the Supreme Court (LA Times report). If confirmed in replacing Justice David Souter, Judge Sotomayor would be the first hispanic Supreme Court Justice (due to her Puerto Rican parents) and the third female justice (following Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg). For an extensive overview over Judge Sotomayor’s resume visit CNN’s reporting and this AP article.

For all those interested in her principal legal opinions in various areas of the law, visit this report over at SCOTUS-Blog. This is what is being said about Judge Sotomayor’s take on international law:

International Law:  Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion in Croll v. Croll, 229 F.3d 133 (2d Cir. 2000), which considered whether a ne exeat clause – that is, a clause prohibiting one parent from removing a child from the country without the other parent’s consent – constitutes a “right of custody” for purposes of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, thereby requiring the child’s return when the clause is violated.  In holding that the ne exeat clause does not constitute a “right of custody,” the majority – among other things – declined to attribute any weight to contrary holdings by courts in other signatory nations, dismissing them as “few, scattered, [and] conflicting.”  In her dissent, Judge Sotomayor concluded that the Convention’s drafters had in mind “a notably more expansive definition of custody rights” than the “parochial” definitions – from U.S. dictionaries – on which the majority relied.  Moreover, she noted, “most foreign courts to consider the issue” had held, as she would have, that a ne exeat clause does indeed constitute a “right of custody.”  Although certiorari was denied in the Croll case, the question is once again before the Supreme Court in No. 08-645, Abbott v. Abbott (disclosure:  Howe & Russell and Akin Gump represent the petitioner in the case).  In January 2009, the Court called for the views of the Solicitor General, who is expected to file her brief this month.  In an interesting coincidence, one potential candidate for the Supreme Court (Solicitor General Elena Kagan) will have the opportunity to comment on the merits of the opinion of another (Judge Sotomayor).

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