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Professors Rao, Somin Testify at Sotomayor Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

Two Mason Law professors were among those appearing as witnesses at the July 16 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Professor Neomi Rao and Professor Ilya Somin were among those whose names were included on a witness list released by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both testified for the minority.

Rao's comments centered on issues of judicial philosophy. She was most recently Associate Counsel and Special Assistant to the President during the George W. Bush administration. After law school, she clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court. She also served as counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she was responsible for judicial nominations and constitutional law issues. Prior to her work in the White House, Rao practiced in the London office of Clifford Chance LLP, specializing in public international law and commercial arbitration.

Somin's comments involved property rights issues, with Sotomayor's 2nd Circuit ruling in Didden v. Village of Port Chester in particular. Somin's research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. He previously served as the John M. Olin Fellow in Law at Northwestern University Law School, and he clerked for the Hon. Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The full witness list for the hearings contained an interesting cross-section of individuals, many with familiar names. Those appearing as witnesses included Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York; David Cone, former Major League Baseball pitcher; Louis Freeh, former director of the F.B.I.; Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel; Representative Nydia Velázquez of New York, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity; Sandy Froman, president of the National Rifle Association; and Frank Ricci, director of Fire Services in New Haven and the plaintiff whose discrimination case was decided in his favor by the Supreme Court in recent weeks.

Read Professor Somin's Testimony

Read more about the hearings

Listen to Testimony on CSPAN

(Somin's testimony occurs in the evening session, approximately 44 minutes into the tape)

Read Detroit Free Press article on Somin's Testimony

Rao on NPR's Talk of the Nation

Read Los Angeles Times article citing Somin

Read Christian Science Monitor article citing Somin