May 26th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

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Judge Sonia Sotomayor is touted by supporters as a justice with bipartisan favor and historic appeal.

The 54-year-old judge is of Puerto Rican descent. If confirmed, she would become the first Hispanic to serve on the high court. She would also be the third female named to the Supreme Court, and the second on the current court.

Sotomayor is a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was named a district judge by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and was elevated to her current seat by President Bill Clinton.

Supporters say that appointment history, along with what they describe as her moderate-liberal views, will give her some bipartisan backing in the Senate. They also point to her compelling story and personal appeal. The liberal-leaning justice rose from humble beginnings at a housing project in the South Bronx and went on to attend Princeton University and Yale Law School.

Robyn Kar, who clerked for Sotomayor from 1998 to 1999, described her as a "warm, extraordinarily kind and caring person."

"She has an amazing story, but she's also just an amazing person," he said, adding that she has a knack for getting to know those around her. "She was the judge who, in the courthouse for example, knew all of the doormen, knew the cafeteria workers, who knew the janitors - she didn't just know all of the other judges and the politicians. She really went out of her way to get to know everyone and was well loved by everyone."

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Katy

    Is sonia sotomayor gay?

    May 26, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  2. damon mcdougal

    i met justice sotomayor 2 weeks ago. she reprerents a large group of our citizens who come from working class people who excel through education. she is the american dream incarnate!

    May 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  3. Shar789

    To Larry

    He is an American. Period.

    May 26, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  4. Larry

    @Mike, Syracuse, NY

    So is President Obama; American, African-American, Kenyan-American?

    May 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  5. Shar789

    I am very troubled that she sided with the City of New Haven

    May 26, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  6. Als

    Pres Obama nomination is excellent. Ex Pres Bush, Clinton and now Pres Obama wanted this women on the bench. The GOP has CNN doing their dirty work trying to come up with dirt on this women. She is more qualified than Clarence Thomas was when he was appointed with all that scandle.

    May 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  7. William of Iowa

    One time. @Mike, Syracuse, NY – Yes. Just like the Bork hearings. I was dismayed by the behaviour of Democrats then as well. Maybe lessons have not be learned. Might I restate my opinion: I find it sad that our elected representatives will not recognize an individual with an inspiring and accomplished resume in law but only consider the perceived ideology of political persuasion. Labeling is stagnation of process and hampering progress.

    May 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Sharon S

    Obama's pick Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Judge is a BAD choice!!
    Judge Sotomayor would not allow the white firefighters to sue after their HIGH test scores were thrown out. The minority got the firefighting jobs and had much lower test scores over white firefighters with higher test scores.
    Even though the law states (and has been for years) – THE ... Read More
    She is obviously a racist who is against whites who are NOW a minority in America and should be allowed the same minority rights.

    But the worst part is she Denied her states rights to have infelligent men and women as firefighters for those less qualified just because of the color of their skin!

    This is NOT only racist she is an insult to all people of color because this decision is saying if you are a person of COLOR you are too stupid to pass the FireFighter's test on your own so you need to be given jobs that you don't qualify for!!
    She is a disgrace to all intelligent females of any color!
    And she IS NOT CATHOLIC, Catholics do NOT kill babies!

    May 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  9. Shar789

    Regarding the comment made by Sam Crunchie: I believe you have totally missed the point of becoming an American Citizen. You are an American, not a "Mexican American". Once you become a citizen your loyalty is supposed to be to America. You are still identifying with your birth country.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Larry

    Well, she's obviously not Native American.
    No Native American Supreme Court Justice, Federal Judge, nor Supreme Court Clerk. Not only has a Native American never served on the Supreme Court, there is not a single Native on the federal bench in the entire country and, there has never been a Native American Supreme Court clerk. There are 866 federal judgeships (nine on the Supreme Court, 179 on the Courts of Appeals and 678 in the District Courts), and not one Native American federal judge.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  11. Lampe

    No Surprise Here! Everyone on this blog is going to be madly in Love with anyone Obama picks. And, If The Dems can give Republican Picks the once over, Why then can't The Republicans return the favor?

    May 26, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  12. jimharshaw

    6 Catholics!

    May 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  13. Lily in Arlington, Va.

    Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

    When she spoke there was no mention of a husband or children.
    So does she also fit into the "Gay Community "??

    THIS MIGHT MAKE HER THE FIRST "Female, Gay, Hispanic" member of the Supreme Court.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Vickie

    @Mike, Syracuse, NY
    I guess Obama managed a two-fer, a woman AND Hispanic with one pick. Is she gay too?
    Who cares! A more reasonable question would be is she qualified? And it looks like the answer to that question is YES.....

    May 26, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  15. GF, Los Angeles

    Her resume is impressive and I hope that's why she was picked – not because she's a woman and a Hispanic...Latino – however people are identifying her race.

    May 26, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  16. Clark

    God says not to be bias to the rich and famous ... and He says not to be partial to the poor and weak.

    But that is exactly what President Obama has stated he wants in a judge. Which means he believes that a judge doesn't need to provide justice and it also means that President Obama doesn't love the decrees of God.

    Strange for a man to say he is a Christian on the one hand and yet not love God's decrees!

    May 26, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  17. Alice

    President Obamas nomination is an excellant choice. It is time for the Supreme Court to begin to look more like the people they are suppose to represent. The womans resume is exceptional and comes at a very important time in this countries history. Some will question her intellect but how could she have accumulated so much experience, without being intellectullay exceptional. BRAVO Sonia !
    Republicans better be careful how they handle this nomination.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  18. jen

    I almost always vote democrat – I lean to the left on social issues – but I don't like how this process works! I won't form an opinion on this nominee until I hear what she has to say in the confirmation hearings. I very much liked what Roberts said and I was rooting for him, and wished that Alito would not be passed through. The Supreme Court should not be classified as where they seat politically. I learned in school that there is a difference between being legally, morally and ethicaly correct. I don't care if any justice believes that something is morally or ethically incorrect! I want to know if it is legal! As soon as we get a president who will nominate someone for their legal skills and not where they stand on moral issues, my faith may be renewed and I just may have hope for the Supreme Court and our nation! Until that day, I will continue to think that the entire appointment process is a joke.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  19. Kai

    While it really doesn't matter what we (the proverbial little people) think of the new nominee, it is far more important what fat rush, apologic mike, bloated bill, etc., etc., tell us what we should think.
    BTW, I think she is well qualified, a breath of fresh air, and we'll see how bigeted the right wing will expose themselves as.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  20. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Any judge who gives it to lawyers who don't do their homework is o.k. in my book 🙂 Seriously, her life experiences are what will make her a good judge on the bench of the Supreme Court. Having a different perspective interpret the Constitution isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it might just bring true justice to the courts in a way we haven't seen before. I look forward to that day. Here's hoping the Republicans will save us further embarrassment and not hamper her selection process in some ridiculous political game to prove they can act like spoiled three-year olds once again.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  21. Richmond Ampiah-Bonney

    Very good pick.
    The word SOTOMAYO means GODDESS OF THUNDER in the Ewe language (spoken in the West African countries of Ghana, Togo, Benin).
    And the pronunciation is exactly as we would say it.
    So, I offer that Sonia Sotomayor has West African roots. Another reason why she will be a terrific Supreme Court Judge.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  22. Idalia

    I would like to know why the media refers to Sotomayor's parents as IMMIGRANTS. Puerto Ricans have been born US Citizens since 1898.
    Can you be an immigrant in a country where you have been acitizen since birth. Please take this moment to educate th US popuation of the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory of the US and we are US Citizens.
    This is NOTa well known fact.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  23. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    I guess Obama managed a two-fer, a woman AND Hispanic with one pick. Is she gay too?

    @William, you mean like the Dems did with Judge Bork? Face it, it's OK for the Dems to have ideological litmus tests like abortion, but let Republicans do the same and they cry like babies.

    @Sam, actually 'hispanic' is an artificial construct of the government, not a real race. Why single those of Spanish descent out from those of German, Italian, Polish, etc. descent? All initially came from European ancestry. The distinction clearly was made for political purposes. Ask someone from Brazil what they are and they answer 'Brazilian' not Hispanic or Latino.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  24. Mike in NYC

    I was troubled to find out that she sided with the City of New Haven in the firefighter exam case now before the Court.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  25. Sam Crunchie

    I don't have a problem with Sotomayor being the Supreme Court nominee but as one of Mexican American heritage I am tired of being lumped in the generic term "hispanic". Nominating a Puerto Rican to the Supreme Court does not make me feel included. What does a New York Judge of Puerto Rican heritage know about the lives of Mexican Americans living in South Texas or any other border state.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  26. William of Iowa

    The interesting point that confirmation to the 2nd. U.S. Court of Appeals took over a year during a period of Republican control of the legislative branch leads me to believe that the conservative right and their media lemmings will rail against the nominee. I find it sad that our elected representatives will not recognize an individual with an inspiring and accomplished resume in law but only consider the perceived ideology of political persuasion. Labeling is stagnation of process and hampering progress.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  27. Sophia Smith

    I find it interesting that none of the news media have mentioned that with her confirmation of her appointment we would have six Catholics on the bench.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  28. Cindy

    Sonia sounds like a good person and fair judge. But you know they will pick her to pieces and try to filibuster or what ever. I say push her on through. It doesn't matter anyway because the make up of the Supreme Court will stay the same so the dems won't have a leg up either.


    May 26, 2009 at 9:43 am |