Who is Sonia Sotomayor - next Supreme Court judge?

May 27th, 2009 - 12:31 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Sonia Sotomayor US President Barrack Obama today nominated Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic person to sit on the United States Supreme Court bench - becoming the first democrat leader to do so in 15 years.

While the appointment of Sotomayor to the highest judicial position in the country was a poorly kept secret, people are now asking, “Who is Sonia Sotomayor?”.

Sotomayor grew up in New York after her parents moved from Puerto Rico. She was diagnosed with diabetes when eight-years-old and lost her father at age nine, growing up in in humble surroundings with her mother.

As a girl she was inspired by the Perry Mason television show and set her sights on becoming a judge.

Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School and started her legal career as an assistant district attorney in New York county, before moving to the city.

In 1992 she was nominated a federal judge by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush and took up a position in the US District Court for the southern district of New York.

In 1998 she was elevated to the appeals court by a Democrat, Bill Clinton, and became an appeals judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, covering New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

At the time Senate Republicans slow-walked her confirmation, partly because even then she was viewed as a potential pick for the Supreme Court.

At her Senate confirmation hearing more than a decade ago, she said, “I don’t believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.”

In one of Sotomayor’s most notable and controversial decisions as an appellate judge she sided last year with the city of New Haven, Conn. in a discrimination case brought by white firefighters.

The city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough, resulting a discrimination claim filed by non-minority firefighters. Ironically, that case is now before the Supreme Court.

In another landmark ruling, Sotomayor, as a federal district judge in 1995, ruled with Major League Baseball players over owners in a labor strike that had led to the cancellation of the World Series.

The president called on the Senate to confirm Sotomayor before the court begins its new term in October, and noted pointedly that she has already won Senate approval twice in her career, with seven of the Senate’s current Republicans voting to confirm her for the appeals court in 1998.

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