TU Law Professor Clerked For Sotomayor

Friday, July 17th 2009, 4:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - United States Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor won her first public pledge of support from the Senate's most senior Republican.  Indiana Senator Richard Lugar announced that he would vote for Sotomayor, calling her clearly qualified.  Her nomination has an Oklahoma connection.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is all but certain to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice.  Her rise to the top court in the country is no surprise to a University of Tulsa law professor.

"She is serious; she's no nonsense," said Dr. Robert Spoo, TU School of Law.

Dr. Robert Spoo is very familiar with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  The University of Tulsa law professor was one of her clerks seven years ago in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.  

"It was great working with her," said Dr. Robert Spoo.

Dr. Spoo has kept a close eye on Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearings and remembering the judge, he says, who takes the law very serious.

"What stood out to me is how much the judge looked to me like the judge I came to know. When she's asked questions she's careful, cautious, serious," said Dr. Robert Spoo.

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn raised concerns that, as a Supreme Court justice, Judge Sotomayor might make decisions that would upset Oklahomans such as on gun control or abortion. But, Dr. Spoo says Sotomayor doesn't lean one way or the other.  Instead, he says, she makes her decisions based solely on the law.

"I think this is very much a centrist kind of judge, that's my experience of her," said Dr. Robert Spoo.

Judge Sotomayor has also been criticized for comments that some are calling racist and there's concern she may let her personal views influence her decisions on the bench.  But, Dr. Spoo says that's far from the case, in fact, he says, Judge Sotomayor is careful to follow the law and get as much information as she can before making a decision.

"I never saw the judge express some extreme view that would cause concern about her impartiality as a judge," said Dr. Robert Spoo.

Three Republican senators including Oklahoma's James Inhofe have publically stated that they will not vote for Judge Sotomayor.  Democrats have scheduled a committee vote Tuesday, starting the clock on a schedule for a final confirmation vote before the Senate leaves in August

Republicans will likely ask for a weeklong delay before the panel vote.