In last month’s post, we talked about the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts. But to get to know the circle of the most powerful judges better, we move on to one of his colleagues, Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Reputed to be the first Latina judge in U.S. history, she was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama on the 26th of May, 2009.
Below is her profile.
Born: June 25, 1954, South Bronx, New York City
Profession: Lawyer, Judge
Princeton University, 1976 (Summa Cum Laude, Pyne Prize)
Yale University, 1979
Sonia Sotomayor was born to Puerto Rican parents Juan Sotomayor and Celina Baez, who moved to New York separately, where they met. It was during World War II that the couple married. Celina served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps while Juan was a factory worker. Juan later died when Sonia was just nine years old. As such, she was made to take her education seriously.
Sonia graduated valedictorian from Blessed Sacrament School in Soundview. In 1972, she was once again the valedictorian of her class upon graduating from Cardinal Spellman High School. After which, she entered Princeton for her undergraduate studies.
At first, she struggled with her academics at the new school, but later learned to adjust to how things worked. Within campus, she became involved in its Third World Center, which inspired her to take up law and tackle legal matters.
She later graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1976 and then entered Yale Law School to pursue her law degree. She received her Juris Doctor in 1979 and passed the bar the following year.
She started private practice at the litigation firm, Pavia & Harcourt, where she moved from being a mere associate to partner in 1988.
Sotomayor rendered pro bono work at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and State of New York Mortgage Agency. This attracted senators Edward M. Kelly and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. From all that, Sotomayor was appointed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York City—nominated by George H.W. Bush in 1992 and confirmed by the senate on August 11.
Through President William Clinton, she was elevated as judge of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on October 3, 1998, where she remained until August 6, 2009.
On the 26th of May 2009, Sotomayor was nominated as Supreme Court Judge under President Obama, stemming from speculation that she would be a formidable contender to replace Justice David Souter, whose retirement plans were leaked during that time.
Her formal nomination followed on July 1 and she was then confirmed, becoming the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice.
Handled the case of copyright infringement involving the Seinfeld Aptitude Test, allegedly used in a novel by the Carol Publishing Group.
Touched on the intervention of the U.S. in providing reproductive health services to families in other countries.
Tackled the steps employees should take on the avoidance of discrimination of one group, which may lead to the discrimination of another.
Now that we have covered Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s profile, it’s time to focus on another Associate Justice, Antonin Scalia. His bio will be discussed in next month’s post. Stay tuned ’till then!
Sonia Sotomayor Biography, Biography.com
Sonia Sotomayor, Judgepedia
Justice Sotomayor, The Supreme Court Review