- - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Justice Sonia Sotomayor this week gave no hint of what the Supreme Court is going to do on the question of whether President Obama’s signature health care overhaul law is constitutional.

Justice Sotomayor was the featured speaker Monday night at a lecture hosted by the University of the District of Columbia.

The court recently heard arguments on the health care law and is expected to make a decision before the end of June. But Justice Sotomayor made no comment on the widely followed case.

The justice used most of her conversation with Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to explain how the Supreme Court works and how she decided to become a lawyer and a prosecutor.

Justice Sotomayor also said she is a fan of Jeremy Lin, whose NBA career with the New York Knicks has spawned “Linsanity.” The justice, a New York native, said “New York loves him” but decried some of the racist comments the Asian-American basketball player has faced as “ugly.”

“It’s a sad statement that people still say those words,” said Justice Sotomayor, who is Hispanic.


Feds accuse Arizona’s sheriff of bad faith

PHOENIX — Federal authorities trying to settle civil rights allegations against America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff said Tuesday that the sheriff’s office has negotiated in bad faith and risks ending settlement talks.

The U.S. Justice Department told a lawyer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a letter Tuesday that the sheriff’s precondition of not having a court-appointed monitor to help enforce an agreement to settle the civil rights allegations would result in the cancellation of negotiations.

The Justice Department said Sheriff Arpaio’s lawyer sprung this precondition on federal authorities Tuesday, despite having previously agreed to a court monitor.

“We believe that you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith,” wrote Roy Austin Jr., a deputy assistant attorney general, questioning whether the sheriff’s office was ever interested in settling the matter. “Your tactics have required DOJ to squander valuable time and resources.”

Sheriff Arpaio said agreeing to a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority as the elected sheriff.

“I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government,” Sheriff Arpaio said in a written statement.


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