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“Sonia Sotomayor”

Top of the agenda this past week: Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87 is tapped to replace Gen. McChrystal as the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Which got us to thinking – what other Tigers found themselves on the rise this week? And, since we believe in a strictly zero-sum world, which Princetonians have seen their stock tumble faster than  BP’s? Here’s our run down of who had the best and worst weeks.

Best Weeks:

Gen. David Petraeus ’85 ’87

Gen. David Petraeus offers to pitch in for the war effort in Afghanistan

Gen. David Petraeus offers to pitch in for the war effort in Afghanistan

As we reported on Wednesday, Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87 will be taking over in Afghanistan (the Senate confirmation hearing is Tuesday, but it’d be a shocker if Petraeus wasn’t confirmed).

Granted, most people wouldn’t consider being put in charge of a complex, costly, and potentially unwinnable war a “good week.”  But David Petraeus is not most people. And from a political standpoint, the pick of Petraeus is furthering talks that there might be a presidential run in his future.

Of course, if a year from now Afghanistan is worse than ever and the General’s press office starts giving freelance reporters from Rolling Stone unfettered access, then we may look back on this week as somewhat inglorious. But for now, Good Week!

Heidi Miller ’74

“Who?” you ask. Well, all you aspiring Wall Street types, listen up:

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced last week that Miller would head up the new Global Corporate Bank. Miller is described as Dimon’s confidant and a possible pick to someday run the giant bank.

So, yeah, Good Week.

Ellie Kemper ’02

Ellie Kemper '02

Ellie Kemper '02

Arguments in favor of Kemper (known to the uninformed as merely Erin on The Office) being every literary nerd’s dream girl:

1. She writes for McSweeney’s.

2. And The Onion.

3. And she announced this week that she has a contract for a new book she’s writing with her sister.

Sounds like a Good Week to us.

And the unfortunate?

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Donald Rumsfeld's former digs

Donald Rumsfeld's former digs

Just in time for Reunions, a heaping dose of Princetoniana in the New York Times.  Ever wonder where Elena Kagan lived while she was a Tiger?  Sonia Sotomayor?  Bill Bradley?

The University doesn’t publicize any of that information, but it’s available in the school’s archives.  Not all famous rooms have lasted into the 21st century, however:

Eager to bed down where James Stewart, the Hollywood legend, snoozed when he was part of Princeton’s class of 1932? Dream on. His freshman-year address at 8 North Reunion was razed, even though John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a future president, also briefly bunked at Reunion…

And don’t bother searching for former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld’s former home at 423 Brown. It is now a women’s restroom.

Whoa.  That’s the bathroom my high school friend threw up in after eating some bad fish!  At Princeton, history is truly all around us.

photo: Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr

All of us are in a state of despair, with Dean’s Date looming over us, but let’s just take a quick moment to engage in some “school spirit” (I hear it’s a real thing):

kagan

President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan ’81 to the Supreme Court, NBC’s Pete Williams is reporting tonight. And the White House will officially announce the selection at a 11 AM event tomorrow (Monday), according to The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder.

Kagan, who previously served as the dean of Harvard Law, will be the third consecutive Princetonian to be picked for the nation’s high court, joining Justices Samuel Alito ’72 and Sonia Sotomayor ’76 on the bench.

Princeton will be the most represented college on the Supreme Court, assuming Kagan is confirmed. Stanford is next with two alumni (Kennedy and Breyer) on the Court. Other colleges represented are Harvard (Roberts), Georgetown (Scalia), Holy Cross (Thomas), and Cornell (Ginsburg). Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens graduated from the University of Chicago.

Kagan would be the third Jewish Supreme Court justice if confirmed, leaving exactly zero Protestants on the bench (Stevens is the only one left). She would also be the first Solicitor General to be appointed to the Court since Thurgood Marshall (for whom she clerked after graduating from Harvard Law). Marshall’s nickname for Kagan? Shorty! (She’s less than 5’3″.)

And Kagan is the second member from the Class of 1981 who has become a superstar in American politics. The other alumnus: Eliot Spitzer ’81. (We will refrain from making any prostitute jokes.)

Oddly, it might be liberals who will be more upset with Kagan, who has supported a more expansive view of executive power than many on the Left find palatable. Still, expect Republicans to mount a large effort against Kagan by arguing that she’s “radical” and too gay rights-friendly. In particular, they cite Kagan’s criticism of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy during her time as dean of Harvard Law as particularly troublesome:

I believe that policy is profoundly wrong — both unwise and unjust…and I look forward to the day when all our students, regardless of sexual orientation, will be able to serve and defend this country in the armed services.

Last year, the Senate voted to confirm Kagan 61-31, including seven Republicans, when she was nominated Solicitor General, so chances are she’ll be hanging with our girl Sonia (and maybe our homeboy Sam? Probably not…) when the Supreme Court begins its new term in October.

See our previous posts on Kagan here, here, and here.

And you can find our past coverage of Justice Sotomayor and her time at Princeton here, here, and here.

It's always a party in the Supreme Court lobby

It's always a party in the Supreme Court lobby

Earlier this week, we gave you some helpful advice on what not to do if you plan on becoming a Supreme Court justice. But what sorts of things should you do as a Princeton student if you want a lifetime appointment to the nation’s high court?

An exhaustive (i.e. cursory, superficial, dumb) examination of the Princeton careers of both Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and leading contender (and Solicitor General) Elena Kagan ’81 reveals some startling similarities between the two. (We, um, conveniently ignored Justice Samuel Alito ’72 because he was just too different.)

Here are some important steps to take before you walk out of FitzRandolph Gate:

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Screen shot 2010-04-26 at 12.26.31 AMSotomayoralitoObama

[from left to right: Kagan '81, Sotomayor '76, Alito '72, and Obama '85]

Do you plan on becoming a Supreme Court justice? Do you plan on becoming famous?

If so, do yourself a favor: Write your thesis on the most mundane, non-controversial topic possible.

Specifically, don’t write about:

  • Scary foreign lands (i.e. Puerto Rico)
    • Last year, Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 got a lot of flack for some of the views she espoused in her thesis, La Historia Ciclica de Puerto Rico. The Impact of the Life of Luis Munoz Marin on the Political and Economic History of Puerto Rico, 1930-1975, which came in at a whopping 178 pages.
    • And if you think you’re out of the woods after getting your final thesis grade, think twice. The National Journal had another professor regrade Sotomayor’s thesis 33 years later! The professor’s conclusion?: “the thesis would probably receive an A/A minus or an A minus.”
  • Scary topics Americans are scared of (i.e. socialism)
    • As we mentioned last week, Solicitor General (and leading Supreme Court nominee contender) Elena Kagan ’81 is also getting criticized for her senior thesis, To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933. The Weekly Standard stated last summer, “Her political sympathies (at the time) seem quite clear — and radical.” Uh oh!
    • No word yet whether anyone will regrade Kagan’s thesis, but then again, she hasn’t been nominated yet.
  • Minority groups (i.e. Princeton-educated blacks)
    • And don’t you remember the media storm over the thesis First Lady Michelle Obama ’85 wrote? (Full text here.) Her thesis, Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community, compared black Princetonians’ identification with the black community while at Princeton and afterwards as alumni.
    • While Obama’s thesis wasn’t regraded, some pundits criticized her writing anyway. Slate.com’s Christopher Hitchens wrote, “To describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be ‘read’ at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn’t written in any known language.” Ouch.

Seriously, after all the flack Obama ’85, Sotomayor ’76, and now Kagan ’81 have received for their theses, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble! So I implore you future-famous Princetonians: Write about really boring stuff.

Just look at the nomination (and confirmation) of Justice Samuel Alito ’72. His thesis, An Introduction to the Italian Constitutional Court, was apparently sufficiently boring enough to preclude any media circus in 2005. Of course, there was that whole CAP (Concerned Alumni of Princeton) thing. So if you want to become a Supreme Court justice, try not to join any racist/sexist organizations, too.

Click here for Part 2.

(image source: princeton.edu; nytimes.com; dailyprincetonian.com)

Obama Court Justice

(source: AP Photo; Yahoo News)

If you were watching last night’s State of the Union address, you might have observed six of the nine Supreme Court justices in attendance, sitting directly in front of President Obama.

Justices Samuel Alito ’72 and Sonia Sotomayor ’76 were sitting next to each other, which we thought was cute. Perhaps, we daydreamed, they’re good friends who reminisce about their times at Old Nassau. Highly unlikely. What would they talk about? Alito’s membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (the now-defunct conservative group that opposed women and minorities at Princeton)? Awkward! Instead, they were probably forced to sit next to each other, since it appears the justices sat in order of their seniority, starting with Chief Justice John Roberts.

Of course, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Alito made more news than that last night when he shook his head vehemently and appeared to mouth “Not true. Not true.” as Obama criticized the recent Citizens United v. FEC decision, which ruled that corporations can use unlimited money to influence political elections. Reactions have been varied: some are calling it an unprecedented breach of decorum (one liberal blog refers to it as Alito’s “Joe Wilson” moment), while others say that Obama was out of line by criticizing the Court. You can check out the YouTube clip below to see for yourself.


Perhaps the incident shouldn’t be such a surprise. Alito and Obama famously don’t get along. As Jeffrey Toobin from The New Yorker writes:

What makes Alito’s reaction even more delicious is that it’s further evidence that the Justice just can’t stand Obama. As a Senator, Obama voted against Alito’s confirmation, which the Justice does not seem to have forgotten. When the President-elect Obama made a courtesy call on the Justices shortly before his inauguration last year, Alito was the only member of the Court not to attend. (Obama voted against Roberts, too, but the Chief Justice managed to spare the time to welcome Obama.) The first law that Obama signed as President was the Lilly Ledbetter Act—which reversed a decision by the Supreme Court that had erected new barriers to plaintiffs filing employment discrimination cases. The author of that now-overruled decision? Samuel Alito. These two guys have a history.

(credit: Beverly Schaefer; source: paw.princeton.edu)

(credit: Beverly Schaefer; source: paw.princeton.edu)

Last month, an all-star panel of Supreme Court journalists criticized Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76′s confirmation hearings that took place over the summer:

Sotomayor — now Associate Justice Sotomayor — “was asked what her judicial philosophy was and she said, ‘I follow the law,’” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told a packed Dodds Auditorium in Robertson Hall. “What a cynical view of the confirmation process.”

Click here to read more at the PAW.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 attended her 30th reunion at Yale Law School over the weekend. She gave a talk about her experience there, but there was one thing that jumped out at us from the Yale Daily News article on the event:

Of her education, Sotomayor said “learning was fun at Yale” — more so than at Princeton, where she earned her undergraduate degree.

We’re going to pretend we didn’t read that.

Oct 21, 2009

Say it ain’t so, Sonia!

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Posted in Alumni Also tagged , One comment

3901714290_277bc31986_bJustice Sonia Sotomayor ’76–who has already been confirmed and sworn in–was made even more Justice-y yesterday at her investiture, when she was officially seated on the bench.

Everyone was there–Obama, Biden, and even Ricky Martin!

Sotomayor hears her first oral arguments today in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Representing the federal government, which is defending campaign finance laws, will be Solicitor General Elena Kagan ’81, who is also making her Supreme Court debut.

And that crazy collar Sotomayor is wearing with her robe? It’s called a jabot (pronounced “zha-BO,” according to the NYT), and it’s clearly a socialist collar because it was made in Canada and was a present from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

(image source: The Official White House Photostream)

Apparently hats are not required for the number one school in the country

Apparently hats are not required for the number one school in the country

August is upon us! Ah, the Sunday of the summer months, freedom mixed with the creeping inevitability of the school year. Personally, we’re with Dave Plotz and his zany plan to rid the world of this month once and for all! But August or not, we’re still here at The Ink summer news desk, wading through the Sea of Media to bring you the finest Princeton news. In this week’s edition: Princeton locks down another 1/9th of the Supreme Court, West Point beats us in college rankings, Robbie George still doesn’t like gay marriage, Harvard tries to recoup some of its endowment via haberdashery, and WE GET MONEY FOR FUSION!!!

  • One more time, for the people way up in the nosebleed seats: SONIA SOTOMAYOR CONFIRMED! That’s right, Princeton’s getting another Supreme Court justice. We’re tired of this story, and you probably are, too. But just in case, wise Latina t-shirts.
  • It’s not all sunshine and rainbows on Nassau Street – Forbes bumped us down to number two on its “America’s Best Colleges” list. The usurper? West Point! Seriously? Seriously. Putting us number two seems to be something of a fad for major publications, with the Forbes bump following last year’s dethroning at the hands of US News and World Report. But we were kind of hoping Steve-O (commonly known as Malcolm “Steve” Forbes ’70) would keep the homerism going longer than just the one year, but as they say up in Montreal, c’est la vie!

George, Harvard, and Fusion post-jump!

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sotomayorThe United States Senate, by a vote of 68 to 31, confirmed Sonia Sotomayor ’76 as the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice this afternoon. She joins fellow Princetonian Justice Samuel Alito ’72 on the high court, who was confirmed in 2006 by a vote of 58 to 42.

The confirmation vote was largely along party lines. Senator Kit Bond ’60, the lone Princetonian undergrad in the Senate, was one of just nine Republicans to vote for Sotomayor. Bond announced yesterday that he would support President Obama’s nominee in a speech on the Senate floor. Some excerpts from Bond’s speech:

“If some are saying that a Democratic president should not have a liberal justice, does that mean a Republican president shouldn’t have a conservative justice? I’ve supported justices with whom I disagreed.”

“The Senate has reviewed her nomination and has asked her its questions. There’s been no significant finding against her. There’s been no public uprising against her. I do not believe that the Constitution tells me that I should refuse to support her merely because I disagree with her on some cases. I will support her; I’ll be proud for her, the community she represents, and the American Dream she shows is possible. I will cast my vote in favor of the nomination of Judge Sotomayor, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

(image source: nytimes.com)

nationaljournalBet you can’t get enough of Sotomayor coverage. I mean, did you know that she went to Princeton?!?! How cool is that?!?! Here’s a piece in the National Journal‘s The Ninth Justice blog on her time at Old Nassau, just in case you’re interested.

An excerpt:

The sense of otherness had a profound impact on Sotomayor. “I felt isolated from all I had ever known, and very unsure about how I would survive here,” she said in the 1996 speech. Sotomayor channeled her alienation into advocacy, making her mark on a turbulent college campus. “She was,” former Princeton President William Bowen said, “a student of her generation.” Or, perhaps her critics may think, a victim of it.