CNN Supreme Court Producer
With Sonia Sotomayor soon to fulfill her long-held dream to sit on the Supreme Court, she will have the prestige of joining the highest court in the land, lifetime job security, and a public forum as the first Hispanic on that bench.
Her formal swear-in will be Saturday morning at the high court, with Chief Justice John Roberts administering the judicial oath.
The 55-year-old judge now has the opportunity to become a influential force among her new colleagues, a legal pioneer who could help shape the law and its effect on society in any number of ways. But such a legacy will not come easily and it certainly will not come quickly. The internal dynamics of a body built on tradition and stability have long discouraged swift and sweeping forces that are regularly felt in the other branches of government, and society at large.
After her Thursday confirmation by the Senate, Sotomayor will become the junior justice, someone with the least seniority but no less authority than her eight benchmates. She brings with her a bit of history, and is sure to be the focus of public attention and political scrutiny.
Special to CNN
It's a question I never thought I would ask my daughter. But I loved being able to ask it.
"Yes, Mom," my 11-year-old daughter said.
"Tell me what T-shirt you would most like to wear: one that says 'I am a Wise Latina,' 'My Mother is a Wise Latina' or 'Sonia is a Wise Latina'?"
She cocked her head slightly and then quickly said, "I am a Wise Latina."
Eleven years old, and this is the vision she already has of herself. It's a pretty wonderful thing to watch that certain something blossom in a girl ... one of those often fleeting moments when a girl owns her own power.
For me, the decision to wear my own "Wise Latina" T-shirt raises all kinds of issues.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
Judge Sonia Sotomayor cruised through her confirmation hearings without a scratch.
Too bad we can't say the same about the seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who tried to dent her credibility and wound up demolishing their own.
The problem wasn't that Republican senators challenged Sotomayor. That's their job. The problem was that they did their job in such an obsessive and boorish way so as to make clear to the entire country that they had no idea how to deal with someone like Sotomayor. Like when Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to be funny by pulling out his Ricky Ricardo accent and informing Sotomayor that she had "some 'splaining to do." All this talk about whether the nominee was ready for the senators, and the senators clearly weren't ready for the likes of her.
After so many questions about it, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s now famous “wise Latina” quote will likely not keep her off the Supreme Court. All indications from Capitol Hill point to her confirmation as the 111th person to sit on that court next week.
Her quote got me thinking, and although I know the role of women is paramount in all ethnic groups, all societies throughout history, I can attest to the great tradition behind Judge Sotomayor’s words where I grew up.
Throughout my youth I was surrounded by hard working, dedicated, intelligent and wise, very wise Latinas. The women of my childhood’s immigrant neighborhood played a strong and central role in family and in community.
Sonia Sotomayor spent her first week at Princeton University obsessing over the sound of a cricket. Growing up in New York City, her only notion of this insect was Jiminy from "Pinocchio." She tore her dorm room apart looking for the critter every night.
Finally, her then-boyfriend and future husband visited and explained that the cricket was outside the room, where she had been holed up most of that week in 1972.
"This was all new to me: we didn't have trees brushing up against windows in the South Bronx," Sotomayor recalled in a speech to the Princeton Women's Network in 2002.
The freshman who was so taken aback by a cricket's chirping now has a more public challenge: Senate hearings on whether to confirm her as a Supreme Court justice, potentially the first Latina to hold such a post.
At one time, being different may have been difficult - for it wasn't just Princeton's crickets that startled Sotomayor. The academics and the students on the leafy Gothic campus, with its ivy-covered dormitories and castle-like towers, also made her feel out of place.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
Sixteen years ago, after I wrote a memoir about my experience as a Latino in the Ivy League, I got a call from a retired Jewish obstetrician who saw his reflection in my words.
A book about being a Chicano at Harvard in the 1980s had stirred memories of being one of the few Jewish students at the University of Southern California in the 1930s.
Now, I feel like calling Sonia Sotomayor, although I realize that her schedule is crowded this week in light of the Senate confirmation hearings for the nominee to the Supreme Court.
I'd like Sotomayor to know that, even though she arrived at Princeton University in 1972 (the year I started kindergarten), I have a good idea what she went through in college - and, later, at Yale Law School - because many Latinos who later traveled that road experienced the same thing.
The following are past key rulings made by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who begins a week long hearing in the senate judiciary committee on Monday.
Sonia Sotomayor, if confirmed, would be the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. But she has many things in common with the eight justices she would sit with.
Laura E. Gómez
Special to CNN
It is likely that Judge Sotomayor will face some questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week about her 2001 "wise Latina" remark.
In a speech at a Berkeley conference on Hispanic judges, Sotomayor said, "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."
Her comment has been lampooned on the cover of the National Review, where cartoonists apparently could not quite fathom a wise Latina judge, choosing to portray Sotomayor as a Buddha with Asian features. It has caused Rush Limbaugh and others to label her a "racist," and it has caused even liberals to bristle.
I was a speaker at the conference Sotomayor's speech kicked off, and I would like to put her comment in context.
Tonight on 360°, watch Anderson’s exclusive interview with President Obama in Ghana. They discuss everything from the economy to Afghanistan, the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask don’t tell” for gay service members and of course U.S. policy towards Africa.
We’ll take you on a tour of the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle with President Obama, to see where kidnapped Ghanaians awaited the horrifying boat rides to America just a couple of centuries ago. Greed and the slave trade triangle – all this and more on the program tonight.
But slavery isn’t just a thing of the past. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s joins us from Haiti with a 360° dispatch on modern day slavery. It’s hard to imagine, but children as young as four years old are caught up in this vicious cycle. We’re digging deeper.
Plus, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings began today at Capitol Hill, as the Senate Judiciary Committee discusses her abilities as a potential Supreme Court judge. From accusations of judicial activism to her controversial comment about being a “wise Latina”, Candy Crowley brings you the raw politics tonight, with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Also, Randi Kaye joins us live from L.A. with the latest details on Michael Jackson’s death. His sister LaToya is speaking out. We’ll have her controversial account of what she believes happened to Michael. Was he murdered? Or, as Joe Jackson now suggests did the prospects of his London concerts burn him out? Plus, we’re following the money trail. Tune in to 360° for the answer to these questions.
Join us at 10pm ET for all this and much more! See you then.