by Adam Liptak
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court term had barely gotten underway in early November when Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued her first dissent. A police officer’s “rogue conduct,” she wrote, had left a man dead thanks to a “‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing.”
Justice Sotomayor would go on to write eight dissents before the term ended last Monday. Read together, they are a remarkable body of work from an increasingly skeptical student of the criminal justice system, one who has concluded that it is clouded by arrogance and machismo and warped by bad faith and racism.
Only Justice Clarence Thomas wrote more dissents last term, but his agenda was different. Laconic on the bench, prolific on the page and varied in his interests, Justice Thomas is committed to understanding the Constitution as did the men who drafted and adopted it centuries ago.
Justice Sotomayor’s concerns are more contemporary and more focused. Her dissents this term came mostly in criminal cases, and were informed as much by events in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 as by those in Philadelphia in 1787...