As he had promised to do, President Obama selected a judge with enormous breadth of life and career experience – experience that dwarfs not only that of Wood or Kagan but, indeed, that of any of the justices on the current Court.

In addition to her extraordinary life story – raised poor by a widowed Puerto Rican mother in the Bronx; graduating summa cum laude at Princeton; graduating from Yale Law School as an editor of the law journal – Judge Sonia Sotomayor has served as a state prosecutor in Manhattan (five years); as a partner in an international business law boutique, where she handled intellectual property cases, including trademark and counterfeiting matters, and international litigation and arbitration of commercial and commodity export trading cases (eight years); a federal district judge (six years); and a federal appellate judge (10 years).

Some litigators believe that, no matter what the specific issue may be before the court, a range of experience is a better background for a judge to have than a lifetime spent seeing the world from a particular, homogeneous perspective – that of, say, a prosecutor, or an academic, or appellate judge.

“All have great credentials,” says Diana Parker, a New York lawyer who studied the records of all of the judges reportedly being considered for the nomination on behalf of a group of women litigators she belongs to. “But in terms of breadth of experience she was clearly the one.”

For the business community, the starting point in any analysis has to be the judge Sotomayor has been selected to replace, Justice Souter, who was by no means a particularly pro-business judge to begin with.

So, if Judge Sotomayor were to prove anti-business, the business community would only have something to lose in those relatively few categories of cases in which Justice Souter would have been expected to vote on the pro-business side.

Photo by The White House.

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