Thursday, December 8, 2022
President Obama Makes Historical Choice for Supreme Court
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published May 28, 2009


                       President Barack Obama and Supreme Court chice Sonia Sotomayor

Judge Sonia Sotomayor would become the first Hispanic and second woman to sit on the highest court

In choosing an appeal court judge to become the next Supreme Court justice, President Barack Obama said, “I am proud to announce my nominee for the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court: Judge Sonia Sotomayor.”  As the first African American president, he has chosen as his first pick the first Hispanic to be on the nation’s highest court.  Barring any unforeseen hurdles, court watchers predict a smooth confirmation, especially since the Senate already has a large Democratic majority with and soon-to-be addition (Al Franken from Minnesota).

Appearing with Sotomayor in the East Room of the White House were her mother, Celina Sotomayor; her stepfather, Omar Lopez; her brother, Juan; her niece, two nephews and sister-in-law.  She was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and started her legal career as an assistant district attorney in New York City after attending Princeton University (B.A.).  She earned her law degree from Yale University where she was also the editor of the Yale Law Journal and the managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order.

Knowing what it takes to be on the Supreme Court, President Obama further noted, “She would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years.”  After five years in the district attorney’s office, Sotomayor went into private practice from 1984 to 1992 when she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 


Her legal career has spanned three decades and she has worked at various levels of the judicial system–an item which gives her vast practical as well as a depth of legal experience.  As a graduate of two of the nation’s leading universities and the experience of a big-city prosecutor and corporate litigator, if confirmed, Sotomayor would be the only justice with experience as a trial court judge.

Sotomayor was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals 11 years ago and during that time she has dealt with an array of complex legal and constitutional issues.  In addition, she is a lecturer at Columbia University and had been an adjunct professor at New York University Law School.

Her story from the Bronx to the bench, places her on the front line heralding the American Dream.  In her remarks, Sotomayor seemed to echo his thoughts on the real world experience he visualized for his appointee.  She said, “I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.”

If confirmed, Sotomayor would joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only other woman on the high court and would be the third woman to grace the Court.  (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the first). 

As President Obama’s first pick to the Court, the Senate Republicans would exercise extreme caution in opposing her confirmation strictly along a party line vote.  Just as the President was prudent in nominating her–since the Hispanic community has never been represented on the high court–it bears noting that the Hispanic community could also be a major voting bloc as the fastest growing segment of the population.  

The Los Angeles Urban League applauded President Obama for the historic nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated excellence and distinction as a trial attorney and she has compiled an extensive record of judicial expertise. She possesses the real-life experience that President Obama has determined will be critical to the new Associate Justice, who will be called upon to apply the law in a manner reflective of everyday lives and circumstances,” said Los Angeles Urban league president Blair Taylor.

“In making a determination on whether to support a federal judicial nomination, the major concern of the Los Angeles Urban League is whether the nominee’s record demonstrates an understanding of the need to continue the fight for African Americans and other minorities so as to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights. Throughout our history the courts have played an unparalleled role in ensuring that the most underserved in our communities would have the hope of achieving equal opportunity. Like many of the constituents we serve, Judge Sotomayor’s record indicates that she has overcome innumerable obstacles on her way to achievement. She is an inspiring woman whose record reflects a commitment to equality,” added Taylor.

“Even as we face extraordinary fiscal and community challenges here in California, we are continually inspired by President Obama’s willingness to expand opportunity for all Americans and to ensure that new voices and points of view will be heard throughout government and the judiciary.”

The Los Angeles Urban League joined the chorus of leaders and organizations that are urging the U.S. Senate to move Judge Sotomayor’s nomination forward expeditiously.

Categories: National

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