Washington College of Law Experts Available to Comment on Sotomayor Nomination


WASHINGTON, DC, May 29, 2009 – As the confirmation process for Judge Sonia Sotomayor moves forward, American University Washington College of Law constitutional law experts are available to comment on the impact of her nomination, potential barriers to her confirmation, and what effect she could have on the dynamics of the Supreme Court.

Professor Stephen Wermiel

Stephen Wermiel is a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law and associate director of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, a 10-year-old program in which Washington College of Law students teach constitutional law in the public high schools of Washington, D.C. Wermiel holds expertise in the U.S. Supreme Court, having covered the court for the Wall Street Journal from 1979 until 1991. During his 12-year tenure at the Journal, he covered and interpreted more than 1,300 Supreme Court decisions and analyzed trends on a broad array of legal issues. Wermiel teaches Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Media Law and a seminar on the workings of the Supreme Court. He is an expert on the life and career of Justice William J. Brennan. Early in his career, Wermiel was a Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe. He has also served on the board of directors and on the legal committee of the ACLU of Georgia. He is currently co-chairman of the editorial board of Human Rights, the magazine of the American Bar Association's Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section, and a member of the editorial board of Communications Lawyer, the journal of the ABA's Forum on Communications Law. He is also co-chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section’s First Amendment Committee.

Stephen Wermiel on Sonia Sotomayor:

“Judge Sotomayor brings some new dimensions to the Court. In addition to her status as the first Hispanic and as a woman, she has a compelling life story. She brings another unique feature – the six years she spent as a federal district court judge. Much of what the Supreme Court decides involves federal sentencing issues, habeas corpus rules in federal court, burdens of proof in civil rights cases under federal law; she will be the only member of the Court who had to apply all of these Congressional and judicial rules as a federal trial judge (Souter and O’Connor had state trial court experience, but not federal). She is clearly a progressive judge whose opinions are carefully reasoned and thoughtful. While there is likely to be opposition, when Scalia went before the Senate as the first Italian-American appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, the vote was 98-0 in part because of the good will engendered by his ethnic status.”

Professor Jamin Raskin

Jamin Raskin is a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law and director of the law school’s Program on Law and Government. He is also a democratic State Senator in Maryland representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park and serving on the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. Raskin’s constitutional law expertise includes the First Amendment, the Constitution and public schools, and the law of democracy and elections. He has written dozens of essays and law review articles and several books, including the 2003 Washington Post Bestseller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, an analysis of conservative judicial activism and its effect on political democracy, and We the Students, which analyzes Supreme Court decisions affecting America’s students and has been called “the bible of the new movement for constitutional literacy.” In 1999 Raskin founded the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which has sent hundreds of law students at seven different law schools into public high schools to teach thousands of students a semester-long course in constitutional literacy.

Professor Stephen Vladeck

Stephen Vladeck is a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law, where his teaching and research focus on federal jurisdiction, national security law, constitutional law (especially the separation of powers), and international criminal law. A nationally recognized expert on the role of the federal courts in the war on terrorism, he was part of the legal team that successfully challenged the Bush Administration’s use of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), and has co-authored amicus briefs in a host of other lawsuits challenging the U.S. government’s surveillance and detention of terrorism suspects. Vladeck has also drafted reports on related issues for a number of organizations, including the First Amendment Center, the Constitution Project, and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, and he is a senior editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of National Security Law and Policy.

Professor Herman Schwartz

Herman Schwartz is a professor in the Washington College of Law at American University, Washington, D.C. Throughout a long career in academia, publishing and community service, he has focused his attention and the world's on issues of civil rights and civil liberties as they have played out in courts and prisons across the globe. He has worked with the United Nations, the human rights advocacy group Helsinki Watch, the U.S./Israel Civil Liberties Law Program (which he founded), the ACLU Prison Project (which he founded), Washington College of Law's Human Rights Center and other organizations. In May 2006 he was awarded the 2006 Champion of Justice Award by the Alliance for Justice. He also is continuing to pursue a lifelong interest in the operations of America's courts, and frequently is called upon to analyze and write about Supreme Court decisions.

Professor Darren Hutchinson

Professor Darren Hutchinson’s areas of expertise include constitutional law, and Equal Protection Theory and equitable remedies. Before joining the faculty at WCL, Professor Hutchinson was an Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University School of Law, and prior to law teaching, Professor Hutchinson practiced commercial litigation at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton in New York City. He also clerked for the late Honorable Mary Johnson Lowe, a former United States District Judge in the Southern District of New York.

To arrange interviews, please contact Jason Policastro at (202) 895-4537 or via email at policastro@wcl.american.edu