Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > Obama chooses first Latina to the Supreme Court

Obama chooses first Latina to the Supreme Court

LatinaLista — Sonia Sotomayor, the product of a South Bronx public housing project, who lost her father at the age of nine, went on to win scholarships to Princeton University and Yale Law School.
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New Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor
This 54-year-old Puerto Rican Latina is currently the U.S. Appeals Court judge in the 2nd Circuit, a position she has held since 1998.
All commentators agree that Judge Sotomayor’s record speaks for itself in terms of experience on the bench, and given her upbringing by a single mother, her impoverished childhood in the Bronx and her devotion to service in the judicial system, all these elements combine to underscore the fact that Sotomayor has the empathy that was so important to Obama and his team.
As one CNN commentator said, Sotomayor is the face of a new America where demographics have shifted substantially to the point where second thought is now applied in appointing only white males.

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  • Horace
    May 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

    “…. given her upbringing by a single mother, her impoverished childhood in the Bronx and her devotion to service in the judicial system, all…”
    This will be useful when her sole job is enforcing the Constitution as it was written by the Founding Fathers? Not likely. Give me an example of how being a mother should influence her rulings on whether something is Constitutional or not. I’ve always thought that rulings should be made strictly according to their Constitutionality, i.e. without regard to bias, i.e. mothers point of view. Unlike Obama, the majority of Constitutional scholars believe that legislating by intepretation is wrong. Only the Congress of the U.S. can change the Constitution, and that’s by Amendment, not simply by changing the Federal Codes. Anything else is beyond the scope of the Supreme Nine. You can be sure that the Republicans will be grilling her on any propensity towards social engineering through Constitutional ruling, as was done in Plyler v. Doe, when the Court forced the taxpers of Texas to pay for the education of illegal aliens.
    Obama claims to be a Constitutional scholar, but you can’t tell it from his statements.

  • Irma
    May 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Wow ! A girl from the South Bronx is nominated to be a US Supreme Court
    Justice. This nomination gives every
    kid living in the projects the hope that
    they can make something of their life.
    Obama has just sealed up a 2nd term…….

  • Grandma
    May 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    “all these elements combine to underscore the fact that Sotomayor has the empathy that was so important to Obama and his team.” The definition of empathy is : Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives.
    A Supreme Court Judge is supposed to interpret the law, not be empathatic.

  • Horace
    May 26, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Oath for a justice of the SCOTUS: “I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”
    Quotes from Sonia Sotomayor that make her unsuitable to become a judge on the SCOTUS.
    1. “All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. I know.”
    I’ve always thought that judges enforce the law, not enact it. Making law and policy is the sole province of Congress, the Executive Branch (policy) and the state legislatures. Her statement indicate that she fails to take the ethic of the judicial system seriously.
    2. “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.”
    This is racism at its worst and wouldn’t be tolerated in an Anglo. Imagine if a white male said: I would hope that a wise old white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina who hasn’t lived that life. Latinos all over the country would be on his case.
    3. “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”
    This indicates that she would cave in to her personal biases. Read the oath again and be honest. If you were wealthy, would you wish to be judged by someone who couldn’t set aside her ethnic or racial biases or past economic circumstances to be fair and impartial?
    If this were a conservative the liberals would tear her apart and she’d never get nominated, but instead, the corrupt Democrats would confirm her. After all, this is how Democrats think.

  • Irma
    May 27, 2009 at 10:27 am

    ” A Supreme Court Justice is supposed to interpret the law not be empathetic.”
    Supreme court justices are not computers, they are human beings. They bleed, grow old, mourn,rejoice and yes ,EMPATHIZE. Their judicial decision in fact arise from the sum total of who they are. The clever judge
    (and they all are ) is able to USE existing law to justify their own personal views.
    Antonin Scalia does it.
    Clarence Thomas and the
    activist judge John Roberts
    do it.
    So do Ginsberg and
    The perspective of the South Bronx may now
    enter the Supreme Court.
    Justice ! Yes, it does exist.

  • Karen
    May 27, 2009 at 1:13 pm
    But When conservative Justice Samuel Alito talks about empathy and sympathy and how his Italian background affects his outlook, it’s OK.

  • MaryElizabeth
    May 27, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Everytime I look at the comments on this blog I see the same partisan rhetoric with many of the posters. For the first time in history we have a latina on the Supreme Court and I do not like to pull the race card out but the comments posted here stereotype her based on her race, gender and the fact that she is an East Coast New Yorker. This is something to be proud of and celebrate. Some of the people here are obviously trying to declare a culture war and Latina Lista is obviously not the place for that. Irma, Grandma and Horace should be deported to another planet because their thoughts are way out there in outer space.

  • Woodruff
    May 27, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    “I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. I know.”
    No matter how the spinmasters would like to change this, saying that it was taken out of context, or some other blather, Ms. SM can’t escape her damning words. This is a sign of arrogance, borne out of the fact that she’s surrounded by people who think as she does, and wouldn’t think of condemning her. I give her credit for admitting her failing, but such self-criticism doesn’t mitigate the fact that she’s unsuitable for this post.

  • Nelli
    May 27, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Horace, the Washington Times agrees with you. Trading on race and irrelevancies is an indication of intellectual weakness for a SCOTUS candidate. When someone goes before the SC they expect justice, not consideration because of race:
    EDITORIAL: Song of Sonia
    Sotomayor’s nomination should rest on record, not race
    Justice is supposed to be blind, but some Democrats want everyone to focus on Sonia Sotomayor’s race and impoverished upbringing when considering her Supreme Court nomination.
    New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, warned Tuesday that as Republicans look to make inroads with Latino votes, “they need to be very cautious and careful” in attacking the nominee.
    Democrats haven’t always been so sensitive. Internal 2001 Democratic Senate Judiciary staff memos to current Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, used race as a justification for rejecting Miguel Estrada’s nomination by President Bush to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Democratic memos, Mr. Estrada was “dangerous” because of his “minimal paper trail, he is Latino and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.”
    The most vocal opposition to Mr. Estrada’s nomination on Capitol Hill came from within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Sen. Robert Menendez, at the time a New Jersey congressman, argued that Mr. Estrada’s ethnicity was irrelevant to his daily work as a judge. But he noted critically that while Mr. Estrada “shares a surname” with Latinos, he had done little to help mentor young Latino lawyers.
    Republicans aren’t above racial politics. In 2005, before the Senate approved Alberto Gonzales’ nomination to become the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, warned that, “Every Hispanic in America is watching.” A few wrongs don’t make a right.
    Judge Sotomayor’s judicial record and views of the law are what must be examined, not the color of her skin or where she grew up. With the first Hispanic women positioned to serve on the Supreme Court, Liberal Democrats are diverting attention from Judge Sotomayor’s controversial record by playing the race card.

  • Evelyn
    May 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    It’s Only Outrageous When Sotomayor Says It
    Scalia, Alito Quotes Blunt Conservative Attacks On Sotomayor
    What’s odd about the body of opposition to Sonia Sotomayor is that it includes so many items that seem to have been previously deemed acceptable for Supreme Court Justices. Take the whole notion of Obama’s appointee being a “judicial activist of the first order?” As you may have seen, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor once quipped:
    The saw is that if you’re going into academia, you’re going to teach, or as Judge Lucero just said, public interest law, all of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is — court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know — and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know.
    But, as it turns out, Sotomayor needn’t worry about talking about how policy is made at the appeals level on videotape. Why, some justices on the Supreme Court have said the same thing and baked it into their judicial decisions.

  • Evelyn
    May 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Ten Things To Know About Judge Sonia Sotomayor
    1. Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the bench than any Supreme Court justice in 100 years. Over her three-decade career, she has served in a wide variety of legal roles, including as a prosecutor, litigator, and judge.
    2. Judge Sotomayor is a trailblazer. She was the first Latina to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was the youngest member of the court when appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York. If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
    3. While on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has consistently protected the rights of working Americans, ruling in favor of health benefits and fair wages for workers in several cases.
    Cases: Archie v. Grand Cent. Partnership, 997 F. Supp. 504 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) and Marcella v. Capital Dist. Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc., 293 F.3d 42 (2d Cir. 2002).
    4. Judge Sotomayor has shown strong support for First Amendment rights, including in cases of religious expression and the rights to assembly and free speech.
    Cases: Flamer v. White Plains, 841 F. Supp. 1365 (S.D.N.Y. 1993), Ford v. McGinnis, 352 F.3d 382 (2d Cir. 2003), and Campos v. Coughlin, 854 F. Supp. 194 (S.D.N.Y. 1994).
    5. Judge Sotomayor has a strong record on civil rights cases, ruling for plaintiffs who had been discriminated against based on disability, sex and race.
    a. “Sotomayor’s Notable Court Opinions and Articles,” The New York Times, May 26, 2009.
    b. Cases: Bartlett v. N.Y. State Board, 970 F. Supp. 1094 (S.D.N.Y. 1997), Greenbaum v. Svenska Hendelsbanken, 67 F.Supp.2d 228 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), Raniola v. Bratton, 243 F.3d 610 (2d Cir. 2001), and Gant v. Wallingford Board of Education, 195 F.3d 134 (2d Cir. 1999).
    6. Judge Sotomayor embodies the American dream. Born to Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in a South Bronx housing project and was raised from age nine by a single mother, excelling in school and working her way to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University and to become an editor of the Law Journal at Yale Law School.
    “Sonia Sotomayor: 10 Things You Should Know,” The Huffington Post, May 26, 2009.
    7. In 1995, Judge Sotomayor “saved baseball” when she stopped the owners from illegally changing their bargaining agreement with the players, thereby ending the longest professional sports walk-out in history.
    “How Sotomayor ‘Saved’ Baseball,” Time, May 26, 2009.,8599,1900974,00.html
    8. Judge Sotomayor ruled in favor of the environment in a case of protecting aquatic life in the vicinity of power plants in 2007, a decision that was overturned by the Roberts Supreme Court.
    “Sotomayor’s resume, record on notable cases,” CNN, May 26, 2009.
    9. In 1992, Judge Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate without opposition after being appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush.
    “Sotomayor’s resume, record on notable cases,” CNN, May 26, 2009.
    10. Judge Sotomayor is a widely respected legal figure, having been described as “…an outstanding colleague with a keen legal mind,” “highly qualified for any position in which wisdom, intelligence, collegiality and good character would be assets,” and “a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity.”
    a. Judge Richard C. Wesley, a George W. Bush appointee to the Second Circuit.
    b. “Sotomayor is Highly Qualified,” The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2009.
    c. Honorary Degree Citation, Pace University School of Law, 2003 Commencement.
    Judge Sotomayor is an historic, uniquely qualified nominee to the Supreme Court. Let’s get the word out and make sure we get a prompt, fair confirmation on her nomination.

  • cookie
    May 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I am proud when anyone of any ethnicity or gender succeeds. However, when they make racist comments they have lost my support.

  • Nelli
    May 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    “Wow ! A girl from the South Bronx is nominated to be a US Supreme Court
    Justice. This nomination gives every
    kid living in the projects the hope that
    they can make something of their life.
    As if this woman is the first person in the South Bronx to make good! If kids in the South Bronx are so bad off that they need to live vicariously off the success of one person, they will never make it.

  • irma
    May 31, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Dear Neli,
    Drawing inspiration from someone else’s life is not living vicariously off of someone else’s successes.
    Lots of people “make it” in PART because they were inspired by someone else.
    I have a several degrees in PART because I was inspired by my grandfather. He started and ran
    a successful business in Dallas even though he had only 3rd grade education. I figured if he had the brains to do that with just 3 years of education ,then I had no grounds to think I couldnt do at least as well.
    The South Bronx is very proud of
    Sotomayor and so are Latinos everywhere. And yes the Bronx
    has more than Sotomayor to be proud of – including Nobel Prize winners.
    Now, hopefully, they can add a Supreme Court Justice.
    J-lo and Sonia both are proud Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx.

  • Traci
    May 31, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Actually, I see no point in living vicariously on the accomplishments of others, even if they are of the same ethnic group as myself. Each person is an individual and their accomplishments their own.

  • Hissy
    June 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Anybody notice that it is becoming “cool” to be uneducated? Folks just brag all the time about how they did everything with no education. Maybe it is a “culture thing”. I don’t get it.

  • irma
    June 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    So Traci,
    I take it if you have siblings or children of your own and they accomplish something.
    You arent proud of them or are perhaps inspired by them ?
    Jenny Craig commericials for example,
    bank on people being INSPIRED and motivated by other people’s
    success in losing weight.
    Nothing nefarious or racist about that .
    It is human nature to be motivated
    by what other people do.
    Yes each person’s accomplishments are their own –
    But no one gets there alone.
    There was always a parent, a teacher,
    a husband, wife or friend or even
    a stranger whose life experience-
    provided inspiration to help
    one make their way to their OWN
    Latinos are not living vicariously off of
    Sotomayor’s successes. We are proud of her successes and provide her as proof to our children that they too
    can be whatever they want to be.

  • cookie
    June 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Can you imagine if white people gloated just because a white person were picked for a Supreme Court Justice? The “R” word would be flying off the wall. We aren’t even allowed to be proud of our ancestors because according to some our ancestors were all native indian killers and the most dispicable race on the face of the earth.

  • irma
    June 2, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Do you not think that all Americans
    are proud of some of their Supreme Court Justices even that share little with them?
    I happen to be proud of the Supreme Court Justices who reversed slavery They were all white men of various European heritages.
    Rejoice and yes be proud that our country is about to appoint a remarkable woman on the Supreme Court.

  • Hissy
    June 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Times are changing slowly but they ARE changing. They was a time in my life when it was VERY UNUSUAL to have a female doctor. I am just about to quit reading these boards because I am tired of hispanic this and hispanic that. My friends are sick of them and won’t hire or do business with them anymore. I do understand because I am starting to feel the same way. LEGAL folks here have a right to complain but the rest need to go home. I do not believe they should get amnesty again and I do feel bad for the legal ones. They are sure paying the price in my area. The mexican restaurants are empty and the talk is that she (Sonia) is a TOKEN. Remember that word? So sick of it all. I hope Obama hurries this along …either way…I don’t really care anymore. Maybe if I were lilly white it would matter to me.

  • cookie
    June 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Then why not just be proud of “any” human accomplishing success and be motivated by them rather than to identify only with those of one’s own ethnicity who became a success? What difference does it make what ethnic/racial makeup someone is who has achieved success?

  • Traci
    June 2, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    “Sotomayor’s successes. We are proud of her successes and provide her as proof to our children that they too
    can be whatever they want to be.”
    Are Latinos so insecure that they have some doubt? This implies an inferiority complex endemic within and inherent to the Hispanic culture. White people don’t seem to require exaggerated affirmations.

  • irma
    June 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Latin Americans just like any MINORITY
    in any country tend be insecure.
    Mexican Americans are however different
    from Mexicans.
    It is simply a question of being in the majority.
    This is human nature, white poor Americans also feel insecure but this is for socioeconomic reasons. I happen to know quite a few white people who came from a modest background – and are successful in
    business and education. They remain
    somewhat insecure about themselves
    – somehow they say they dont quite
    “fit” .
    This is for cookie:
    It is entirely natural to be specifically proud of the accomplishments of a group or person close to you.
    Are you proud that I went to college?
    No, of course, and why should you?
    yes, one can be proud of anyone’s success but at the same time it is
    easier to relate to success if that
    person looks like you.
    Take Sotomayor for example. By your own admission you should be inspired
    and proud of her successes. But are you?

  • LeaOrtiz
    June 6, 2009 at 10:01 am

    “Everytime I look at the comments on this blog I see the same partisan rhetoric with many of the posters.”
    I agree. I know this outrage is the same outrage expressed when Miguel Estrada a Honduran born American was the FIRST hispanic to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Right?
    Think about this when you watch their lovefest with Sonia Sotomayor
    “I happen to be proud of the Supreme Court Justices who reversed slavery They were all white men of various European heritages.”
    It was not the Supreme Court Justices that ended slavery. It was the signing of the Emmacipation Proclamation of Rebuplican President Lincoln in 1863.
    American History

  • cookie
    June 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Irma, I replied to your post already but apparently it wasn’t worthy of posting in here.
    I am proud of anyone who acheives success no matter who they are. No, my chest doesn’t swell up with even more pride if it is a white person just like me. Why should it? Humans are humans. I am not into identity politics.
    What I don’t like about Sotomayer has nothing to do with her ethnicity but everything to do with her words and actions.

  • irma
    June 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Dear Lea Ortiz,
    Unfortunately Lincoln’s signature on that
    document didnt really free the slaves.
    It freed the US to treat US citizens like
    Over a 100 years AFTER LIncoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, African
    Americans were barred from voting, restaurants, schools etc.
    Lincoln’s signature was not backed by action.
    Actually, the first Hispanic to be be nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court was a Sephardic Jew named Cardozo. But that was long time ago……….

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