14 July 2009
Sonia Sotomayor: Fashion Police?
After only Day One completed of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the historic nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice,* we've already heard some of the more predictable commendations and attacks about her. Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, a democrat from Vermont, began the hearings with a cautionary note (Let no one demean this extraordinary woman) that ranking Republican committee members like Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) disregarded (I will not vote for --no senator should vote for -- an individual [who] allows their own personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision in favor of, or against, parties before the court).
Throughout the rest of the hearings, we are also likely to hear about Sotomayor's judicial record on capital punishment, affirmative action, abortion, and her civil rights work with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, now known as LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
One bit of news about her judicial past that has been circulating in the fashion media but has not made its way into the mainstream is her work with the legal firm, Pavia & Harcourt, as a civil litigator for luxury fashion houses Fendi and Bulgari between 1984 and 1992. According to articles in WWD and Latina magazine, Sotomayor's crackdown on the knockoff industry involved stakeouts "in the back of police vans with the windows blacked out" and dicey motorcycle pursuits "around Shea Stadium in an attempt to catch some criminals selling bootleg merchandise." She also participated in rather theatrical protests like the 1986 "Fendi Crush" in which "phony Fendi bags were smashed by a garbage truck in front of Tavern on the Green as a message to those who sell and buy these fake goods." Also finally, while at Pavia & Harcourt, Sotomayor drafted key anti-counterfeiting legislation that has since become part of the New York state penal code.
* If she is confirmed (as she should be!), Sotomayor will be the first Puerto Rican, first Latina, and only third woman to serve on the High Court.