Recalled San Francisco DA goes from darling Supreme Court justice to unemployed


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor once hailed Chesa Boudin as a “great beacon to many”. But that was before San Francisco voters ousted the district attorney on Tuesday, largely because he feared he wasn’t doing enough to hold criminals accountable.

At Boudin’s January 8, 2020 swearing-in ceremony, Sotomayor, the first Latina on the nine-member bench and the third woman elevated to the Supreme Court after her confirmation under the Obama administration, made a rare pre-recorded appearance for congratulate him. assumes the role of senior city prosecutor. Boudin promised “to begin immediately to reform the criminal justice system”.

Appearing on a large auditorium screen in front of Boudin’s supporters, Sotomayor said she was sending “this message to tell you how much I admire you and to wish you well in your new endeavors.”


Sotomayor highlighted Boudin’s upbringing in his speech, noting that he “spent his childhood visiting relatives incarcerated for committing serious crimes.”

Boudin is the son of Weather Underground criminals Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. The now defunct left-wing militant group was labeled a terrorist organization by the FBI following a series of bombings targeting government buildings and banks in the 1970s.

The now ousted prosecutor was adopted by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, former leaders of the group, after his biological mother was convicted and jailed for murder and bank robbery in 1981, just 14 months after the birth of her son.

“Your personal strength and commitment to reforming and improving the criminal justice system is a testament to the person you are and the role model you will continue to be for so many,” Sotomayor said.

The Democratic-appointed judge also noted that “the road to accomplishing what you have set out to do will be daunting.”

“As you told me, ‘We are all safer when we uplift the victims, hold everyone accountable for their actions, and do so with empathy and compassion.’ I wish you much success in everything you do,” added Sotomayor.

But after just two years of work, voters felt differently in San Francisco amid soaring crime rates in one of the nation’s most liberal cities.

The recall petition against the Democratic district attorney, which has garnered more than 83,000 signatures, has become a bipartisan rallying call for Republicans eager to pounce on a public official whose progressive criminal justice reform policies have created the image of anarchy and danger in San Francisco. Meanwhile, local Democrats have sought to sharply contrast their support for police reform with Boudin’s policies, widely seen as favorable to criminal suspects.

As a former public defender, Boudin was the most progressive candidate in the 2019 district attorney election and narrowly won, by just 2,840 votes, in the primary against Democratic candidate Suzy Loftus, who also won. supported recall effort.

Boudin called the recall effort a “scapegoat,” saying the changes the country has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with rising crime rates across the country, contributed to the vote. reminder on the ballot.


“I work as hard as I can every day to make the city safer for all of us,” Boudin said. said in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “I can’t blame people…for being frustrated. The past two years have presented us individually and collectively with challenges and changes that we could never have anticipated.”

Although overall San Francisco crime has not increased in the city during the pandemic, there has been a specific increase in shoplifting and auto theft, as well as an increase in the homicide rate, according to city police COMPSTAT data from 2021.

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