By Brenda Austin
An official endorsement by the group requires an extensive background in Indian law, which Sotomayor does not have. “We think it is important to have a diversity of experiences and feel she will have a lot of understanding for the American Indian community. She has been very open-minded as a judge, which is important in looking into new areas of law. Both her personal history and her intellectual capabilities, we think, will make her a very good justice.”
Sotomayor will be the third woman and the third racial minority on the Supreme Court. She will be the first minority justice with some insight into the special property and political rights of minority people--in her case, the people of Puerto Rico. In many ways, neither American Indians nor Puerto Rico wants complete integration into the American polity, preferring a sovereign existence within the United States.
Some Natives see opportunity with Supreme Court nominee
By Rob Capriccioso
“The only hope is educating the new justice,” Fletcher said. “I think tribal advocates need to keep doing what they’re doing–quality, if not excellent advocacy before the Supreme Court; carefully strategized amicus briefs; and desperately try to keep the cases out of the Supreme Court if at all possible.”
Despite Sotomayor’s similar background to some Native Americans, Fletcher said she likely knows little about Indians, Indian tribes and Indian law. He strongly supports catering legal briefs involving tribes to her for the next several years.
“She is a relative blank slate on Indian law. I’m convinced the majority of the rest of the court has already made up their minds about Indians, Indian tribes and Indian law. Judge Sotomayor could be persuaded with the tribal interest point of view, I think, in ways the rest probably cannot.”