Obama Names Sotomayor to Supreme Court

New Yorker would be first Hispanic on High Court

sonia_sotomayorPresident Barack Obama named federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to officials, making her the first Hispanic in history on the high court.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter and join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court. Obama plans to make a formal announcement at a 10:15 ET news conference.

Obama has previously said that he wants a justice who combined intellect and empathy — the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.

Sotomayor is a self-described “Newyorkrican” who grew up in a Bronx housing project after her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico, according to the Associated Press. As a girl, she would watch the the Perry Mason television show and said that inspired her to be a judge.

She is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, a former prosecutor and private attorney. Sotomayor became a federal judge for the Southern District of New York in 1992.

Sotomayor began her legal career in 1979 as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County. In 1984 and until her first judicial appointment, she practiced with the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt as an associate and later partner. Her focus at the firm was on intellectual property issues and international litigation and arbitration of commercial and commodity export trading cases.

After graduating from Princeton University summa cum laude in 1976, Judge Sotomayor attended Yale Law School. At Yale, she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order. Sotomayor was an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law from 1998 to 2007 and is a lecturer at Columbia Law School since 1999.

Sotomayor is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York City Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, the National Association of Women Judges and the American Philosophical Society.

Now that Obama has made his choice, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings this summer. The Judiciary Committee will conduct a thorough investigation into Sotomayor’s past and come up with questions that will try to get her to reveal her judicial philosophy. Senators can’t force a nominee to answer questions. And they can only vote for or against the nominee.

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