Sotomayor: Good Judge, Crappy Writer

Dry, plodding opinions could make her left's Clarence Thomas
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2009 12:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Sonia Sotomayor obviously has her talents, but “writing isn’t one of them,” writes Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones. “Sotomayor’s opinions read like she’s still following a formula she learned in college.” Whereas someone like Antonin Scalia wows with his airy and convincing prose, reading a Sotomayor opinion “might be good punishment for law students who show up late for class.”

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It’s tempting to dismiss such a shortcoming, but it’s a big deal. “The court’s influence and lasting legacy is what it commits to paper,” Mencimer argues. Good writers are quoted through the ages, bad ones lost to history. Without strong writing skills, Sotomayor risks being as irrelevant as Clarence Thomas. “After all, who quotes Thomas in term papers? His most significant influence on the court is getting the conservatives to five votes.” (Read more Sonia Sotomayor stories.)

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