Justice Sotomayor Makes History with First Opinion

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first to use the term “undocumented immigrant” in a Supreme Court decision when her first opinion from the high court was released Tuesday. According to the New York Times, the term “illegal immigrant” has appeared in a dozen previous Supreme Court opinions.

The case, Mohawk v. Carpenter (see PDF), concerned Norman Carpenter, a former employee of Mohawk Industries, who alleged that he was fired under false pretenses after telling a manager that the company “knowingly hired undocumented workers,” according to Court House News. At the time, Carpenter did not know that the company already faced a class action suit that accused the company of hiring undocumented immigrants.

In the unanimous opinion, Sotomayor wrote that “the question before us is whether disclosure orders adverse to the attorney-client privilege qualify for immediate appeal under the collateral order doctrine.” The court ruled that such disclosure orders do not immediately qualify for an appeal.

Sotomayor is the 111th justice, the third woman, and the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court. Prior to Sotomayor’s confirmation, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only woman Justice seated on the Court. Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2005.


Feminist Daily Newswire 8/7/09; New York Times 12/9/09; Courthouse News Service 12/9/09

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