biography center image
Home Suggest a Biography Forum Contact
Browse by Alphabet Most Popular Highest Rated   back to  search
Browse by Letter : A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Sonia Sotomayor ( 1954 - )  Category ( Judges ) [suggest a correction]

Sonia SotomayorFor the most part, judges in our society are towering, remote figures who inspire not only respect but fear in those who come before them. Ours is still a society based on law, and judges operate the levers of that legal machinery from their elevated benches.

That is, until one of them is nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court, or even a District judgeship. Suddenly, it is the judge who is on the defensive, forced to answer a barrage of questions about a judicial record that usually stretches back for decades.

So it was with Sonia Sotomayor this summer before the U.S. Senate finally voted, 13-7, to move along her appointment to the nation's highest court. In the process, she was fought over like a kennel bone by the Republican and Democratic parties, with the eventual vote unfolding almost entirely along party lines.

There was little about Sotomayor, however, that the Republicans could sink their teeth into. There was a comment she made in a speech, noting that "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with all the richness of her experience, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male." And there was her vote -- and eventual reversal -- in the landmark case of Ricci v. DeStefano, supporting the City of New Haven, CT in its decision to throw out an examination for prospective firefighters to make it more accessible to minorities.

On the other hand, Sotomayor had been elevated to the federal bench (Southern District of New York) by George H.W. Bush, and had gone on record in several cases that took a very different stance on racial matters. Her overall body of work (including only five reversals) tended to be middle-of-the-road and close to the law.

Still, as Sotomayor mentioned several times during her confirmation hearings, a judge cannot operate with complete independence from his or her past.

In Sotomayor's case, that past involved a slow climb up from poverty in a Puerto Rican section of the Bronx. Her father had only a third grade education, spoke English haltingly and died young, leaving Sonia to be raised by her mother. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a young age and has taken insulin virtually all her life.

Despite these early obstacles, Sotomayor excelled academically at her Catholic high school, made it to Princeton and received her law degree from Yale.

Her first post-college job was as an assistant district attorney in New York, where she spent five years wading through the muck-filled trenches of her profession. She prosecuted prostitutes, drug dealers and murderers, and her essentially liberal world view was bent somewhat by that.

"No matter how liberal I am," Sotomayor said at one point, "I am still outraged by crimes of violence."

Eventually, she took a job with the private firm of Price & Harcourt in 1984, one of 30 attorneys. She became a partner four years later, and was shortly thereafter appointed to the New York Mortgage Agency. After her appointment to the bench by Bush, she was recommended for the next level -- the Court of Appeals -- by President Clinton in 1997. That confirmation was also contentious.

starstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstar    Rating  0
Rating [Comment on this link]
starstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstar    Rating  0
Rating [Comment on this link]
starstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstarstar    Rating  0
Rating [Comment on this link]
[Suggest another Link for this biography]
Browse by categories
Biographies beginning with
Biographes by Category
Most popular biographies
Most rated biographies
View all categories
Browse by categories
arrow Suggest an addtional category for Sotomayor Sonia
arrow Suggest a Biography
arrow Add details to this biogaphy
© Copyright 1998-2024 Biography Center