Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama Nominates Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice

Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated by President Barack Obama for the position of U.S. Supreme Court Justice to replace retiring Justice David Souter. Born in the Bronx, New York, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court. Her mother and father emigrated from Puerto Rico during World War II. She would also become just the third woman named to the Supreme Court, and the second female on the current court.

As WPI Founder and Director Karen O'Connor notes, "Obama made the obvious choice for the Supreme Court, fulfilling two quota positions at once. He would also be putting the sixth Roman Catholic to serve on the high court. Until the 1960s, one seat on the court was held for a Roman Catholic. This nomination also fulfills both Justice Ginsburg and retired Justice O'Connor's wishes for another woman on the bench." Professor O'Connor, J.D./Ph.D. is a nationally recognized scholar and expert on the impact of women on the Supreme Court. She has published widely and in numerous journals about the impact of Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg on the court's decisions.

Sonia Sotomayor always wanted to become a lawyer. This morning at the White House, she described her nomination as “the most humbling honor of [her] life.” After graduating from Princeton University, she went on to attend Yale Law School where she was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. After graduating in 1979, she served as the Assistant District Attorney in New York County, under prominent District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. In 1984 she entered private practice, specializing in intellectual property litigation.

In November, 1991, Sotomayor was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, becoming not only the youngest judge in the Southern District, but also the first Hispanic federal judge in all of New York State. Currently, she holds the position of federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to which she was appointed by President Clinton in 1997.

Sotomayor's nomination holds the possibility of bipartisan backing in the Senate. In 1998, she was confirmed to her current seat by winning the votes of several key Republican senators, some of whom are still in the Senate. If she is able to maintain their support, it is very likely that her nomination will be confirmed.

Written by Katerina Cinkova, WPI Summer Intern