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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor Essay

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor Essay

Justice Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009. A vacancy became open upon the retirement of Justice Souter. If her nomination and approval by the Senate is approved, she would become the 111th Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Her confirmation hearing by the Senate did not go without controversy. Justice Sotomayor gave a speech at the University of California, Berkeley and in her speech, she said, “I would hope that a wise Latina Woman with richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

” Some, including commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, view this statement as being racist. She acknowledged the phrase, “wise Latina woman” was a bad attempt to playing on words. In the end, Justice Sotomayer was confirmed by a vote of 68-31. Justice Sotomayor life is one that is full of achievement and disappointment. Her appointment has changed the landscape from of the court.

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City and is of Puerto Rican descent. Her father died when she was nine, and she was subsequently raised by her mother. As a child, she aspired to be like Nancy Drew, the detective in the popular children’s mystery series. But at the age of 8, she was diagnosed with diabetes and told she would not be able to pursue that line of work. Sotomayor said it was another fictional character that inspired her next choice. “I noticed that [defense attorney] Perry Mason was involved in a lot of the same kinds of investigative work that I had been fascinated with reading Nancy Drew, so I decided to become a lawyer,” Sotomayor told the American Bar Association publication in 2000. “Once I focused on becoming a lawyer, I never deviated from that goal.”

Her parents moved to New York during World War II – her mother served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps during the war. Her father, a factory worker with a third-grade education, died when Sotomayor was nine years old. Her mother, a nurse, then raised Sotomayor and her younger brother, Juan, now a physician in Syracuse. After her father’s death, Sotomayor turned to books for solace, and it was her new found love of Nancy Drew that inspired a love of reading and learning, a path that ultimately led her to the law.

Most importantly, at an early age, her mother instilled in Sotomayor and her brother a belief in the power of education. Driven by an indefatigable work ethic, and rising to the challenge of managing a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes, Sotomayor excelled in school. Sotomayor graduated as valedictorian of her class at Blessed Sacrament and at Cardinal Spellman High School in New York. She first heard about the Ivy League from her high school debate coach, Ken Moy, who attended Princeton University, and she soon followed in his footsteps after winning a scholarship.

Judge Sotomayor’s Legal Realist Judicial Philosophy

Formalism is an appealing view because it purports to validate the rule of law, in contrast to the rule of the men and women who serve as judges. If the judge is simply a vehicle for expressing the law’s meaning, then when the judge interprets the law, the judge is not adding his or her own gloss, but rather simply applying the rules and standards previously chosen through democratic processes. For this reason, Justice Scalia, who has also espoused formalism, specifically associates it with the rule of law. Yet formalism has been under assault for over a century. “Legal realists” have long noted that the formalist’s view of the law is false, or at least radically incomplete.

Even a legal realist will likely admit that, yes, in some very simple cases–the sort that are either never brought or that settle quickly–the formal legal materials uniquely determine the answer. However, legal realists point out that in the sorts of cases that reach appellate courts, and especially a court of last resort like the United States Supreme Court, there is usually a substantial gap or ambiguity in the law. That is the very reason why we need such courts, legal realists say. As the term “legal realism” suggests, legal realists believe that formalists are not being honest (perhaps, not even with themselves) when they disclaim any influence from their own values upon their judicial decisionmaking. Nor, they say, could matters be otherwise in a complex and evolving society in which legislators and constitution writers cannot possibly have anticipated all of the circumstances in which the provisions they wrote would be applied.

The point was aptly made this way: The constant development of unprecedented problems requires a legal system capable of fluidity and pliancy. Our society would be strait-jacketed were not the courts, with the able assistance of the lawyers, constantly overhauling the law and adapting it to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial and political conditions; although changes cannot be made lightly, yet law must be more or less impermanent, experimental and therefore not nicely calculable. Much of the uncertainty of law is not an unfortunate accident: it is of immense social value. Who said that? None other than Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in a 1996 speech at Suffolk University Law School. Formalism, Legal Realism, and Judicial Empathy

Knowing that Judge Sotomayor is a legal realist does not tell us everything about her judicial philosophy, but it does paint a vivid contrast with the formalism expressed by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts at their confirmation hearings. That contrast, in turn, makes sense of the controversy over President Obama’s view that a Justice ought to have empathy. If one thinks–as many conservative commentators apparently do–that formalism correctly describes American law, then empathy is irrelevant to judging. The judge’s job is simply to apply the formal legal materials. Empathy is no more useful to the formalist judge than it is to someone writing a dictionary. In each case, one is simply looking for the meaning of words. However, if one thinks that the legal realists have it right, then a broad capacity for empathy is crucial to judging.

According to the legal realist view, in filling in the law’s gaps and ambiguities, a judge will necessarily be making value-laden decisions that derive in part from her background and experience. The broader the background, and the greater her ability to step outside her own circumstances to see the law’s effects on others, the greater will be the judge’s ability to, as Judge Sotomayor put it, adapt the law “to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial and political conditions.” Neither legal realism nor empathy alone constitutes the whole of Judge Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy.

To fully appreciate her approach, it would be necessary to read a substantial number of the hundreds of opinions she has authored as a federal judge. But at least with a professed legal realist judge like Sotomayor, one knows where to begin. In an era when we are all too familiar with 5-4 Supreme Court decisions splitting along conservative/liberal lines, it is refreshing to have a nominee who does not pretend that her background and values have nothing to do with her legal decisions.

The Case Against Sotomayor

Sotomayor’s former clerks sing her praises as a demanding but thoughtful boss whose personal experiences have given her a commitment to legal fairness. “She is a rule-bound pragmatist–very geared toward determining what the right answer is and what the law dictates, but her general approach is, unsurprisingly, influenced by her unique background,” says one former clerk. “She grew up in a situation of disadvantage, and was able, by virtue of the system operating in such a fair way, to accomplish what she did. I think she sees the law as an instrument that can accomplish the same thing for other people, a system that, if administered fairly, can give everyone the fair break they deserve, regardless of who they are.” Her former clerks report that because Sotomayor is divorced and has no children, her clerks become like her extended family–working late with her, visiting her apartment once a month for card games (where she remembers their favorite drinks), and taking a field trip together to the premier of a Harry Potter movie.

But despite the praise from some of her former clerks, and warm words from some of her Second Circuit colleagues, there are also many reservations about Sotomayor. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative. The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,” as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it.

“She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.” (During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, “Will you please stop talking and let them talk?”) Second Circuit judge Jose Cabranes, who would later become her colleague, put this point more charitably in a 1995 interview with The New York Times: “She is not intimidated or overwhelmed by the eminence or power or prestige of any party, or indeed of the media.” Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. It’s customary, for example, for Second Circuit judges to circulate their draft opinions to invite a robust exchange of views. Sotomayor, several former clerks complained, rankled her colleagues by sending long memos that didn’t distinguish between substantive and trivial points, with petty editing suggestions–fixing typos and the like–rather than focusing on the core analytical issues.

Some former clerks and prosecutors expressed concerns about her command of technical legal details: In 2001, for example, a conservative colleague, Ralph Winter, included an unusual footnote in a case suggesting that an earlier opinion by Sotomayor might have inadvertently misstated the law in a way that misled litigants. The most controversial case in which Sotomayor participated is Ricci v. DeStefano, the explosive case involving affirmative action in the New Haven fire department, which is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court. A panel including Sotomayor ruled against the firefighters in a perfunctory unpublished opinion. This provoked Judge Cabranes, a fellow Clinton appointee, to object to the panel’s opinion that contained “no reference whatsoever to the constitutional issues at the core of this case.” (The extent of Sotomayor’s involvement in the opinion itself is not publicly known.) Not all the former clerks for other judges I talked to were skeptical about Sotomayor.

“I know the word on the street is that she’s not the brainiest of people, but I didn’t have that experience,” said one former clerk for another judge. “She’s an incredibly impressive person, she’s not shy or apologetic about who she is, and that’s great.” This supporter praised Sotomayor for not being a wilting violet. “She commands attention, she’s clearly in charge, she speaks her mind, she’s funny, she’s voluble, and she has ownership over the role in a very positive way,” she said. “She’s a fine Second Circuit judge–maybe not the smartest ever, but how often are Supreme Court nominees the smartest ever?”

I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths. It’s possible that the former clerks and former prosecutors I talked to have an incomplete picture of her abilities. But they’re not motivated by sour grapes or by ideological disagreement–they’d like the most intellectually powerful and politically effective liberal justice possible. And they think that Sotomayor, although personally and professionally impressive, may not meet that demanding standard. Given the stakes, the president should obviously satisfy himself that he has a complete picture before taking a gamble.

Racial Discrimination

Judge Sotomayor’s most high-profile case, Ricci v. DeStefano, concerns white firefighters in New Haven who were denied promotions after an examination yielded no black firefighters eligible for advancement. Joining an unsigned opinion of a three-judge panel of the appeals court, Judge Sotomayor upheld the rejection of a lawsuit by white firefighters, one of them Hispanic, claiming race discrimination and, as part of the full appeals court, she declined to rehear the case. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision in a 5-to-4 vote. Judge Sotomayor dissented in part in an earlier case, Gant v. Wallingford Board of Education, finding that race discrimination had occurred when a school demoted a black child from first grade to kindergarten.

Lawsuits Against Federal Contractors

An opposition memo on Judge Sotomayor cites her ruling in a case about lawsuits against federal contractors to claim that she is “willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution.” The case concerns an inmate who lived in a fifth-floor room while serving a federal prison sentence for securities fraud. He was allowed to use the elevator because of congestive heart failure, but when a guard had him climb the five flights, he had a heart attack, fell down the stairs and suffered an injury. He sued the company that ran the halfway house for the federal Bureau of Prisons. As part of the appeals court, Judge Sotomayor emphasized precedents that permitted suits against companies performing state government functions.

The Supreme Court reversed Judge Sotomayor, ruling 5 to 4 that only individual agents, not corporations, may be sued for such violations. Justice Stevens – joined by Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer – dissented. “Extending Bivens liability to reach private corporations furthers [its] overriding purpose: providing redress for violations of constitutional rights.” (Bivens was a 1971 Supreme Court case that allowed some people whose rights have been violated by federal agents to sue.) —Makesko v. Correctional Services Corporation, 2000

Related Documents
* Makesko v. Correctional Services Corporation

In a defeat for environmental groups, the Supreme Court ruled this term that the Environmental Protection Agency may use cost-benefit calculations to decide whether to require power plants to make changes that could preserve aquatic organisms. The case mostly concerned the meaning of a phrase in the Clean Water Act that requires the power plants’ cooling structures to “reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact.” Judge Sotomayor had previously ruled that weighing the costs of the changes against the value of the organisms in dollars was not permitted by the law. Instead, the EPA could consider only what cost “may reasonably be borne” by the power plants.

When her ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter, dissented, saying that cost-benefit analysis was prohibited by the law and pernicious in practice. “Congress has already specified the relationship between cost and benefits in requiring that the technology designated by the EPA be the best available.”

—Riverkeeper v. Environmental Protection Agency

Related Documents
* Riverkeeper v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007)
Workplace Discrimination: Disabilities

Some of Judge Sotomayor’s more prominent opinions on discrimination concern people with disabilities. In one case, Judge Sotomayor ruled that a law school graduate with a reading and learning disability was entitled to extra time in taking the bar exams. After the Supreme Court decided that people are not protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act if they can function normally by wearing glasses, taking medication or otherwise compensating for their disabilities, it told the Second Court to reconsider its decision in this case. Judge Sotomayor again found that the woman was disabled, and must be given accommodations, writing that test scores alone were not enough to diagnose a disability.

Another case concerned a trucking company that rejected applicants who were taking some medications. Judge Sotomayor dissented from the majority, writing that Hunt, the company, had determined the applicants were “substantially limited in the major life activity of working,” and not, as the, majority found, merely “unsuited for long-distance driving of Hunt’s 40-ton trucks on irregular stressful schedules.” “By its very nature, diagnosing a learning disability requires clinical judgment.” —Bartlett v. New York State Board of Law Examiners

Related Documents
* Bartlett v. New York State Board of Law Examiners (1999) * E.E.O.C. v. J.B. Hunt Transport (2003)
International Law

Some of her Judge Sotomayor’s most notable decisions have come in child custody and complex business cases. One case concerned a child of divorced parents who lived in Hong Kong. The mother had sole custody of the child and the father had “reasonable access.” The mother took the child to New York, and the father filed a petition for return of the child to Hong Kong. A custody order said the child could not be removed from Hong Kong without the consent of the father or the Hong Kong court, and the case centered on whether this clause confers “rights of custody” under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. If it did, it would require the child’s return to Hong Kong.

On appeal, the court ruled the removal was not wrong because the father did not possess rights of custody. In her dissenting opinion, Judge Sotomayor argued that a broader interpretation of “custody” was more in line with the “object and purpose” of the Convention, and that this was how foreign courts had considered the issue. The question in this case, Croll v. Croll, is before the Supreme Court in Abbott v. Abbott. Another case concerned jurisdiction. Federal courts can hear cases between “citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign state.” According to British law, citizens of Bermuda are “nationals,” but not “subjects.” A panel found, therefore, that federal jurisdiction did not apply. Judge Sotomayor dissented, writing that the Constitution used “citizen” and “subject” to refer to a range of relationships.

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Affirmative Action Essay

Affirmative Action Essay

With the election of an African American as President, many would think that the question of affirmative action and equal opportunity have been finally laid to rest in the United States. This perception may seem to be true for the protagonists of affirmative action, who over the years have believed that the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity can only be seen to fruition if an African American emerges as President (Kamalu and Kamalu 2004). The Civil Rights movement brought issues of affirmative action to the forefront of government policy making, hence Congress enacted the Equal Opportunity Act of 1964 as the legal backbone.

It was obvious that the primary purpose then was to create equal opportunities for minorities and the under-privileged in the society. However, as time went by and following subsequent interpretations of the Act by the courts in cases of reverse discrimination, the effect of the law on equal representation in employment, schooling and government contracting was diminished.

To this end, affirmative action became a form of preferential treatment awarded to privileged groups, a form of reverse discrimination, a denial of meritocracy and social justice (Pauwels 2011).

As a matter of fact, minority under-representation was one of the most widely discussed issues in the polity, to the extent that President Bill Clinton in his 1995 address to Congress said “the way out is to introduce the principle of race neutrality and the goal of aiding the disadvantaged into affirmative action preference programs themselves: to base preferences, in education, entry level employment and public contracting, on class, not race” (Kahlenberg 1995, 21), this was his response to many reverse discrimination decisions coming out of the supreme court in favor of the plaintiffs. The Bush administration however, did not improve the cause of affirmative action, sometimes it accepted preferences and sometimes it opposed them (Clegg 2008).

The question is whether the cause of affirmative action has actually changed from racial preferences to class distinction following the election of Barack Obama as President. President Barack Obama, in a speech at Osawatomie Kansas in 2011, told his audience that, “this kind of inequality—a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression—hurts us all”, the inequality that strikes him most is in the distribution of income, the provision of basic resources that will spur the economy back on track. Though it is true, as observed by Kamalu and Kamalu (2004), that the ultimate goal of the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for equal opportunity is to see an African American emerge as President, the implementation of affirmative action goes beyond the interest of the President.

Pauwels (2011) observes that since an African American has been elected President, the future of affirmative action is uncertain and the discussion has been removed from the public domain. Pauwels observation may be true to an extent, though the election of Barack Obama has bridged the racial gap, class distinction remains an issue for discourse. President Obama’s struggle for the restoration of the middle class is proactive, and suggests that he is conscious of the inequality in the society from the class structure than in the racial perspective, this concurs with Bill Clinton’s remarks as stated in his speech to Congress. However, in the light of the observations in Pauwel and Kathlenberg, also in the views of the proponents of affirmative action, the election of Barack Obama as President has removed the discussion from the public domain, but he has followed the discussion in the perspective that is most expedient and conforms with his economic policies.

The economic emancipation of minority groups should be the driving force of any legislation or government policy initiative aimed at providing equal opportunity in the society. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. As Barack Obama emerged President of the United States, protagonists of civil rights and equal opportunity would have thought that he will be the champion of affirmative action, being of the minority stock himself.

Nevertheless, he has redirected the discussion to suit the burning issue of the time – the economy and distribution of income. Surprisingly, Barack Obama has not elevated the discussion of affirmative to the height and enthusiasm it was taken to by Bill Clinton, who in his speech to congress was emphatic as to the way forward stating “today I am directing all our agencies to comply with the Supreme Court’s Adarand decision, and also to apply the four standards of fairness to all our affirmative action programs that I have already articulated: no quotas in theory or practice, no illegal discrimination of any kind, including reverse discrimination; no preference for people who are not qualified for any job or other opportunity ; and as soon as a program has succeeded, it must be retired.

Any program that doesn’t meet these four principles must be eliminated or reformed to meet them” (Clinton 1995). Some scholars have posited that a major step in guaranteeing affirmative action is by winning the political war as well, by electing friends of affirmative action to the presidency, state courts, and top judicial positions and the election of judges who are “judicial activists” to the bench to continue to uphold the constitution to meet the needs of contemporary American society (Kamalu & Kamalu 2004). This position may not always hold sway as we can see from the present circumstances that even those perceived to be friends of affirmative action may not be seen to further the cause so generously. Meanwhile, the emergence of an affluent black middle class also made affirmative action claims seem increasingly suspicious, climaxing with President Barack Obama’s election, dubbed by some the ‘death knell’ of affirmative action (Magliocca 2008).

African Americans are now gradually coming to terms that the wings of racial discrimination have been broken, and to a large extent turned to the annals of history with the election of Barack Obama as President. If the racial content of equal opportunity is undermined, as can be seen in the decisions of courts, then it is obvious that what is left in the legislation will not be for the benefit of minorities only, but for the underprivileged class in the society. Who else would have been more silent on the issue of affirmative action if not someone perceived to be a beneficiary? To many Americans, affirmative action has now become irrelevant, a concept only debated in narrow academic circles that cling to the outdated idea of institutionalized racism (Young 2009). Apparently, affirmative action programs have been reformulated to avoid polarization, they don’t focus overtly on race and ethnicity, they cast the net wide so as to seem all-inclusive and they are backed up by strong court cases and judicial decisions in favor of reverse discrimination, and strong opposition for racial preferences.

Opponents of affirmative action have often advanced the views that the fundamental principles of capitalism and the market economy do not provide for absolute equality, it would be utopian for anyone to wish that there will be equality in the distribution of resources. Nevertheless, the struggle for equality that is rooted in the civil rights movement was informed by outright racism and economic deprivation designed through policies of government that were inherently exclusive at the time. It is this struggle for equality that is manifest in the consciousness of the people especially for African Americans to see the election of Barack Obama as a relief for this long struggle for racial equality and economic emancipation. The struggle for racial equality ultimately goes with so many expectations, which practically includes getting one from the minority stock into highest position of governmental decision making.

The election of Barack Obama obviously came, civil rights activists had to heave a sigh of relief and it became a turning point. It has turned out good, everyone has rested his case and the expectation is now focused on the results of the performance of the President in this regard. Immediately after the general election, in November 2008, a New York Times/CBS poll found that the proportion of people who believe blacks ‘‘have an equal chance of getting ahead’’ had risen to 64 per cent, up from 46 per cent in 1997 (Pauwels 2011). Clegg (2008), in his study was very critical of race based affirmative action, he argued that pursuing the cause of affirmative action will undermine the fundamental principles of free enterprise and the spirit of hard work that accompanies economic independence.

He went further to state that “the American Dream has always been that any American can work toward the life he or she wants, and will have the opportunity and the freedom to achieve and accomplish what he or she wants in life. There will be hurdles to overcome, but one barrier that should not be there is the color of an American’s skin or where an American’s ancestors came from” (Clegg 2008, 991), we all know that for many years—for centuries—that dream was not allowed to many Americans. Too often discrimination because of race or ethnicity denied Americans the equality of opportunity they should have had. President Bill Clinton in 1995 restated the fundamental principles of affirmative action that “the purpose is to give our nation a way to finally address the systemic exclusion of individuals of talent on the basis of their gender or race from opportunities to develop, perform, achieve and contribute”.

Affirmative action is an effort to develop a systematic approach to open the doors of education, employment and business development opportunities to qualified individuals who happen to be members of groups that have experienced longstanding and persistent discrimination. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has recognized equality from the perspective of the distribution of resources not opportunities. Like he said in Kansas, “America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars he made. It’s also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.

Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans”, this is vintage Barack Obama substantiating an argument for the sustenance of the middle class in America, knowing full well that empowering the middle class will drive the economy through increased consumption and productivity and ultimately economic growth. What is most intriguing about the arguments of affirmative action is that there is a shift of the premise due to several reasons: affirmative action was supposedly temporary and targeted at the black community only; in fact, these measures were extended over the years to an increasing number of new categories; women (who are today acknowledged as being their prime beneficiaries), then most other ethnic minority groups, including new immigrants (Pauwels 2011).

Its primary rationale became blurred in 1978 when the Bakke decision shifted the goal of affirmative action from repairing past injustices against the black community to the much more ambitious and less clearly defined justification of achieving diversity (Frymer and Skrentny, 2004). Even President Bill Clinton realized this shift in his 1995 speech to congress when he said “that affirmative action has not always been perfect, and affirmative action should not go on forever.

It should be changed now to take care of those things that are wrong, and it should be retired when its job is done. I am resolved that that day will come, but the evidence suggests indeed that that day has not come”. However, that day finally came with the election of an African American as the President of United States, whose drive is no longer affirmative action but equality in income distribution and the provision of basic opportunities for the benefit of all and sundry especially creating a formidable middle class that will cut across all races and ethnic origins.

Cited Works
Clegg, Roger 2008, “Unfinished Business: The Bush Administration and Racial Preferences” Harvard Journal of Law, Public Policy, 32, 971 – 997. Clinton, Bill 1995, “Remarks by the President on Affirmative Action”, Essential Speeches 2009. Academic Search Premier. Frymer, P. and Skrentny, J.D., 2004, “The rise of instrumental affirmative action: law and the new significance of race in America” Connecticut law review, 36 (3), 677_723. Kahlenberg, Richard 1995, “Class Not – Race: An Affirmative Action that works”, The New Republic April 3, 1995. P. 21 Kamalu, Johnson and Ngozi Kamalu 2004, “From Bakke to Grutter: The Supreme Court and the Struggle over Affirmative Action in the Era of Globalization” The Western Journal of Black Studies, 28:4, 489-502. Magliocca, G.N., 2008. The Obama realignment (and what comes next). Working Paper [online], December 2. Available from: Obama, Barack 2011, “The New Nationalism: On the whole and in the long run we shall go up or down together” President of the United States: Speech delivered at Osawatome High School, Osawatome, Kansas December 6, Pauwels, Marie – Christine 2011, “Does Affirmative Action have a Future in Barack Obama’s America?” Journal of Intercultural Studies, 32:3, 309-319 Young, C., 2009. “Obama: Race and Affirmative Action”. Real clear politics [online], 27 January. com/articles/2009/01/dnp_obama_race_and_affirmative.html

Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz Essay

Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz Essay

Freefall: Free markets and the sinking of the global economy by Joseph Stiglitz (2010) One page Summary Joseph Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. Dr. Stiglitz is currently the Chair of Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought. He received his PhD. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. Dr. Stiglitz served as the World Bank’s Senior Vice President for Development Economics and Chief Economist from 1997 to 1999. He was the Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors before his tenure at World Bank.

In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his analysis of markets with asymmetric information and pioneered pivotal concepts such as adverse selection and moral hazard. He also founded a leading economics journal namely The Journal of Economic Perspectives. In 2011, Dr. Stiglitz was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in Time.

Freefall is a book concentrated at the financial crisis of 2007-2009. It is also a book about a battle of ideas, essentially the ideas that led to failed policies that precipitated the crisis.

Nobel laureate, Joseph Stiglitz uncovers the fundamental causes of the crisis and the flawed policies taken by the financial institutions as well as the Federal Reserve in a historical, political and comparative context. The financial system may have exacerbated the collapse but the crisis instead as he argued, originated in an overblown housing market, which pushed the creation of America’s addiction to consumption when it should be saving.

He argues about the market imperfections and misaligned incentives that distorted the decisions made by everyone from mortgage originators to credit-rating agencies. He mentions about regulators making the mistaken judgment that markets worked well and no regulations were needed. Under this misjudgment, banks were able to transform risky subprime mortgages into AAA-rated products and encouraged the uninformed poor people to take out variable-rate mortgages which resulted people rushing to get what seemed like ‘free lunch’. Stiglitz then mentions the policies made by both the Bush and Obama administrations at that time.

He sees the little change from the Republican, far-right days of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. Despite Obama was elected on the promise of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and was forced into the midst of the economic crisis from the first days in office, Stiglitz claims the restorative actions taken were done in a ‘muddle through’ way and describes how the Obama administration has shown a disturbing ongoing complacency towards bankers and continued to bail out ‘too big to fail’ banks that were prohibited by the Glass-Steagal Act in the earlier era. As a result, the government injected taxpayers’ money into the banks which allowed resumption of the culture of paying out outsized bonuses and taking high-risk transactions. He also criticized Obama refusing to formulate a vision by stating the entire electoral appeal was solely based on feel-good vagueness and argued that the lack of vision would put the ‘reform’ process in halt which leave the country more fragile.

He argues the state should have forced the banks to restructure financially at the height of the crisis, wiping out shareholders and instead handing out ownership to bondholders. Furthermore, he argues the need for a second round of stimulation plan beyond 2009’s $789 billion package as unemployment stood at around 10% and university graduates were lost in the harsh economic climate under the drastic cut in entry-level jobs. In the final chapters, Stiglitz emphasizes the need for regulations and argues the developed world must need a reformed financial system which performs core functions namely sound risk management and efficient payments mechanism. Whilst Stiglitz advocates for a forcible break-up of top banks together with statutory protection for the financial products such as derivatives, he argues that citizens, policymakers, government leaders and the private sector needs to rethink on how they value outputs in the economy so that it will narrow the inequalities in the society.