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While much of the media has relied on the Jeffrey Rosen Method of Determining Judicial Temperament (also known as "assuming that a small handful of anonymous quotes tell the whole story") NPR actually listened to recordings of oral arguments in two high-profile cases involving Sonia Sotomayor. NPR's Nina Totenberg concluded:
Yes, these are tough questions, but are they mean, unduly snotty or abusive? No more so than the questions heard on a routine basis in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But a handful of anonymous observers have said she is a bully. What could possibly explain those complaints, if they aren't consistent with actual audio recordings of Sotomayor in action? Oh. Right:
Judge Guido Calabresi, former Yale Law School dean and Sotomayor's mentor, now says that when Sotomayor first joined the Court of Appeals, he began hearing rumors that she was overly aggressive, and he started keeping track, comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.
"And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn't stand being questioned toughly by a woman," Calabresi says. "It was sexism in its most obvious form."