Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Sonia SotomayorSonia Sotomayor (born June 25, 1954) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since August 2009. Sotomayor is the Court's 111th justice, its first Hispanic justice, and its third female justice.

In the fall of 1976, Sotomayor entered Yale Law School on a scholarship. A school with very few Latinos, Sotomayor fit in well and was known as a hard worker. Yale General Counsel and professor José A. Cabranes was an early mentor to her and helped her to understand how she could be successful within "the system". She became an editor of the Yale Law Journal and was also managing editor of the student-run Yale Studies in World Public Order publication, which is now known as the Yale Journal of International Law. Sotomayor published a law review note on the effect of possible Puerto Rican statehood on the island's mineral and ocean rights. She was a semi-finalist in the Barristers Union mock trial competition. She was co-chair of a group for Latin, Asian, and Native American students, and in her advocacy pushed for hiring more Hispanics for the faculty of the law school. In her third year, she filed a formal complaint against the established Washington, D.C., law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge for suggesting during a recruiting dinner that she was only at Yale via affirmative action. Sotomayor refused to be interviewed by the firm further and filed her complaint with a faculty–student tribunal, which ruled in her favor. Her action triggered a campus-wide debate, and news of the firm's subsequent December 1978 apology made the Washington Post. In 1979, she was awarded a J.D. from Yale Law School. She was admitted to the New York Bar in 1980.

Sotomayor was nominated on November 27, 1991, by President George H. W. Bush, to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by John M. Walker, Jr. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, led by a friendly Democratic majority, went smoothly for her in June 1992, with her pro bono activities winning praise from Senator Ted Kennedy and her getting unanimous approval from the committee. Then a Republican senator blocked her nomination and that of three others for a while in retaliation for an unrelated block Democrats had put on another nominee. D'Amato objected strongly. Some weeks later, the block was dropped and Sotomayor was confirmed by unanimous consent of the full United States Senate on August 11, 1992, and received her commission the next day. She, thus, became the youngest judge in the Southern District, the first Hispanic federal judge in New York State, and the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in a U.S. federal court.

On June 25, 1997, Sotomayor was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which was vacated by J. Daniel Mahoney. After considerable political wrangling, with complete Democratic support and support from 25 Republican senators including Judiciary chair Orrin Hatch, Sotomayor was finally confirmed on October 2, 1998, by a 67–29 vote.

On April 30, 2009, Justice David Souter's retirement plans leaked to the media, and Sotomayor received early attention as a possible nominee for the seat to be vacated in June 2009. On May 26, 2009, Obama nominated Sotomayor to the court. She became only the second jurist to be nominated to three different judicial positions by three different presidents.

Sotomayor's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee began on July 13, 2009. On July 28, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sotomayor's nomination; the 13–6 vote was almost entirely along party lines, with no Democrats opposing her and only one Republican supporting her. On August 6, 2009, Sotomayor was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 68 to 31. The vote was mostly along party lines, with no Democrats opposing her and nine Republicans supporting her.

Sotomayor was sworn in on August 8, 2009, by Chief Justice John Roberts.¹

Sonia Sotomayor Quotes

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
"I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and government."

"Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich."

"We apply law to facts. We don't apply feelings to facts."

"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."

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