WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, praising her as "an inspiring woman" with both the intellect and compassion to interpret the Constitution wisely.
Obama said Sotomayor has more experience as a judge than any current member of the high court had when nominated, adding she has earned the "respect of colleagues on the bench, the admiration of many lawyers who argue cases in her court and the adoration of her clerks, who look to her as a mentor."
Standing next to Obama at the White House, Sotomayor recalled a childhood spent in a housing project in the Bronx as well as her upper-echelon legal career: "I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government."
Barring the unexpected, Senate confirmation seems likely, given the large Democratic majority. If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court, the third in history. She would succeed retiring Justice David Souter.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., issued a statement saying he looked forward "to working with both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to confirm Judge Sotomayor as the first Hispanic and the third woman to sit on the court."
Senate Republicans pledged to give her a fair hearing, and some questioned whether she would base decisions on her personal feelings, rather than constitutional principles. Given her background, any effort to filibuster her nomination could carry political risks, since Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population and an increasingly important one politically.
Sotomayor would be unlikely to alter the ideological balance of the court, since Souter generally sides with the liberals on key 5-4 rulings. But at 54, she is a generation younger than Souter, and liberal outside groups hope she will provide a counterpoint to some of the sharply worded conservative rulings. Link
This nominee has an incredible story and background. She is the American Dream: Link
Sotomayer's parents came to New York from Puerto Rico.
Sonia was born in the Bronx and lived in the Bronx housing projects.
At a young age, Sonia suffered juvenile diabetes and began insulin injections at the age of 8.
Her father did not speak English and he died when Sonia was only 9yo. Her mother had to raise both Sonia and her brother alone.
Sotomayer graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and went to Yale Law School.
She was also an editor of the Yale Law journal.
Her career includes every level of the judicial system: assistant prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, private practice with Pavia & Harcourt law firm, appointed as a federal appellate judge in New York; adjunct professor at the NY University Law School and lecturer at Columbia University Law School.
Sotomayer was nominated to the US District Court of NY by President George HW Bush - confirmed in 1992.
Nominated by President Bill Clinton to the US Courts of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in 1997.
She has more Federal court experience than any of the current Justices at the time they were appointed.
The Hispanic Community is celebrating! This is such recognition!
Sotomayor is an excellent pick!
Her only downfall - she has been a lifelong Yankees Fan!