By far, Justice Sotomayor's most troubling issue is the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Her two gun-rights decisions, one holding that the right to bear arms does not apply in any way to states and the other that the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right, prompted gun-rights leaders to fiercely oppose her nomination and even persuaded the National Rifle Association to come out against her.
Next year the Supreme Court is almost certain to take up the question of whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. It's likely that the Court will not take Sotomayor's case from the Second Circuit, Maloney v. Cuomo, because it's not a good case to present such an important issue and doesn't even involve guns.
Instead the Court is likely to go with NRA v. Chicago from the Seventh Circuit, a picture-perfect case challenging the Chicago gun ban from Barack Obama's home town. This ban is every bit as severe as the D.C. gun ban struck down by the Court in 2008 and is also one that President Obama openly supports.
If the Court takes the Maloney case, then we might not know Justice Sotomayor's true beliefs on the Second Amendment for years, because she would likely recuse herself from having any part in that case. NRA v. Chicago, by contrast, would prove once and for all what she really thinks about the constitutional right to bear arms.
We will not have long to wait to see what kind of jurist Sonia Sotomayor will be on the High Court. On Sept. 9, the Supreme Court will consider a major free speech case in Citizens United v. FEC, where America's most accomplished Supreme Court lawyer, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, will take on the Obama Justice Department. A decision in that case is expected before the Court's new term starts on Oct. 5.
Sonia Sotomayor now becomes the newest justice on the Supreme Court. The president and her supporters say she is a mainstream moderate, while her opponents say she's a liberal activist. We'll know soon enough, as this issue heats up for next year's election.