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Obama Supreme Court pick: Sonia Sotomayor.

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Updated at 12:50 p.m. eastern time

WASHINGTON-Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic federal appellate judge raised in a South Bronx housing project by a single mother, was nominated by President Obama Tuesday for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice David Souter.

Obama was looking someone with empathy and a "real life" storyline and a connection with how judicial decisions impact the lives of Americans.

He got both with his historic pick of Sotomayor, down to her suffering from juvenile diabetes, being inspired as a youth by Nancy Drew detective stories and, in one of her judicial decisions, "saving baseball," issuing an injunction ending a strike.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. eastern time

WASHINGTON-Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic federal appellate judge raised in a South Bronx housing project by a single mother, was nominated by President Obama Tuesday for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice David Souter.

Obama was looking someone with empathy and a "real life" storyline and a connection with how judicial decisions impact the lives of Americans.

He got both with his historic pick of Sotomayor, down to her suffering from juvenile diabetes, being inspired as a youth by Nancy Drew detective stories and, in one of her judicial decisions, "saving baseball," issuing an injunction ending a strike.

If confirmed, Sotomayor will be only the third woman justice in the history of the United States. She would also be the first Hispanic. Opponents to Sotomayor are already mobilizing on the basis that she would be a liberal judicial activist. The White House and allied groups will mount a campaign to ensure her confirmation.

Sotomayor's parents came to New York from Puerto Rico and her father died when she was nine.

"Along the way she's faced down barriers, overcome the odds, lived out the American Dream that brought her parents here so long ago. And even as she has accomplished so much in her life, she has never forgotten where she began, never lost touch with the community that supported her," Obama said in introducing Sotomayor--little known outside of New York--to the nation.


"What Sonia will bring to the Court, then, is not only the knowledge and experience acquired over a course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated from an inspiring life's journey," the president said.

Though Sotomayor has twice been confirmed by the Senate, she seemed overwhelmed by the enormity of her selection, and she said in the East Room of the White House, a little nervous.

Her mother, stepfather, brother, sister-in-law and niece and nephew in the audience as well as an invited group of Democratic allies, who could be expected to be mobilized in the anticipated confirmation battle. Among those present included the Rev. Al Sharpton, labor leader John Sweeney and AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney.

Sotomoary said, "Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich. I was raised in a Bronx public housing project, but studied at two of the nation's finest universities. I did work as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting violent crimes that devastate our communities. But then I joined a private law firm and worked with international corporations doing business in the United States. I have had the privilege of serving as a Federal District Court trial judge, and am now serving as a Federal Appellate Circuit Court judge.

"This wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. It has helped me to understand, respect, and respond to the concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me, as well as to the views of my colleagues on the bench. I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and government."

Sotomayor would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court. The first female was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Sotomayor was nominated to the second circuit court of appeals by former President Clinton in 1998 and was tapped in 1991 for the federal court by former President George H.W. Bush.

Sotomayor, born June 25, 1954, is a 1976 graduate of Princeton, picking up a law degree from Yale in 1979.

The Democrats have 60 votes, but that does not mean there will not be a confirmation battle. She was already attacked by a conservative group--an hour before Obama's announcement-- as being too liberal.

Obama's vetting team had to be aware of a 2005 a videotape of comments Sotomayor made while on a Duke University panel discussion--about how judges on the Court of Appeals are "making policy." She did seem to jokingly note right after she said it her crack could get her in trouble.

That video clip is being replayed on news shows along with the story of her appointment. That clip will cause her aggravation and become a rallying cry for groups already organizing to block her confirmation.

Obama, in making the announcement, tried to diffuse the rallying cry of Sotomayor opponents he must have known was coming: that she is a judicial activist.

Obama said a criteria he set for his selection was a nominee who had "an understanding that a judge's job is to interpret, not make, law; to approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice; a respect for precedent and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."

Well, that didn't stop anyone.

Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative group, said in a statement about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.

People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan said in a statement, "President Obama has made a superb choice. Judge Sotomayor has one of the sharpest intellects on the federal bench. She's shown that she'll bring an open mind to the Court and rule on each case according to its particular merits. Her nomination is a very positive step towards bringing diversity to our highest Court.

Other contenders, including Chicago based federal appellate judge Diane Wood were interviewed by Obama for the slot. In the end, Sotomayor's story prevailed.

Said Obama reflecting on Sotomayor's life: "It's a career that has given her not only a sweeping overview of the American judicial system, but a practical understanding of how the law works in the everyday lives of the American people."

13 Comments

More of the same ! I thought Obama said he would choose someone different from the usual lawyer variety. She is the same elitist urban type that looks down on the rest of the country, especially those who reside in more rural areas. She is also a VERY serious threat to our constitutional freedoms. The second amendment will be threatened without a doubt. We don't need any more of these activist judges that force their opinions on us instead of doing their legal, proscribed duty of interpreting the law.(This is part of the safety net that the separation of powers is supposed to guarantee, it is VITAL to our freedom) I guess I shouldn't have deluded myself by believing Obama, he's a very dishonest person.

is it me, or does she look WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much like Rosanne Barr?

She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court."

Good choice Obama! Different faces that reflect the image of the "NEW" America. Not the "OLD" confederate America! She will be confirmed, if not, the House has to watch his/her back! Election's are around the corner. Good chess move, Obama!

@ Mphilly : me too see what you saw..

As Blackwiseman said, its better to change with the "NEW" America.

Lynn,

Can we get some dueling comments from interest groups? Like NOW or the People for the American Way?

REPLY
just posted PFAW statement....
i have a flood of react coming in...will try to start posting soon.

Our new nominee for the Supreme Court has said, "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."

What the hell kind of statement is that? But you watch: If any white Senator dares to take her to task at her Senate hearing for making this asinine remark, all of her lib supporters will whine and cry that she's being picked on.

As far as I'm concerned, I hope the GOP grills Sotomayor and puts her through the same scrutiny that nearly every Democrat has put nearly every potential Supreme Court justice who has ever been nominated by a Republican president over the past 20 years.

In fact, I hope she gets Bork-ed.

"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." These words came out of Sotomayor's mouth. The comments smack of bigotry and racism. There is no place for racisim on the Supreme Court. It's 2009, not 1955. Confirming her would send the message that it's ok to be racist. Our society should strive to be better than that.

Lynn get your facts straight. Nominating Sonja will not make him the first president to nominate a Hispanic justice, contrary to the claims of almost every media outlet that talks about the possibility of a Hispanic justice. That honor belongs to Herbert Hoover, who appointed Benjamin Cardozo to the Supreme Court in 1932. Cardozo served until 1938

Please proofread before posting. It's "Sotomayor" NOT "Sotomoary"

A fantastic choice in my opinion. She is tremendously experienced and has worked very hard to get where she is.

For those complaining that she was nominated because she is a hispanic woman: ask yourself if you felt the same about Condi Rice. We need a voice for everyone in our upper courts. That is what is supposed to make our country great remember???

I imagine there will be a lot of mudslinging from Republican, but they will do so at their own peril. Especially since she was a George H. Bush appointee.

It's sad that President Obama chooses another person looking to dismantle the Constitution. For all the flaws the US has had, overall I would say we are a great nation. I know many liberals will always go back to slavery, but you have to consider that slavery was accepted throughout the world for many, many centuries prior to the Declaration of Independence. Rather than looking at the United States as a nation founded on the backs of slaves, we should celebrate that this great nation abolished slavery within 100 years of its coming into existence. We went against the grain of the world and at great lengths too - look how many men gave their lives fighting for this cause. Sure there are lingering racists out there, but the US began a major shift that has led to the abolition of slavery in other countries as well. For the liberals who want to change everything about the US, be careful what you wish for because with Obama you just might get it. Maybe when Obama stifles the great freedoms we enjoy all of the sheeple will realize how much progress was made over 200 plus years in the US due precisely to liberty. Obama has picked a woman who is on record calling herself an activist judge who I'm sure is just salivating to "change this horrible country" to better suit the desires of people she feels have been trampled upon. One thing everyone should realize is that she climbed the ladder out of the projects and worked her way up (a very commendable achievement) during the Reagan and Bush I years.

Let's wait and see how the confirmation hearings go-I have no doubt she will be confirmed. Her reference to have read Nancy Drew already made her a winner in my book since I too read the entire series. I believe Judge Sotomayor does know how to relate to the "real world." She did not grow up as a elitist Urban, what she grew up with was an extended family and a mother who told her she could be whatever she wanted to be and valued academic achievement, and hard work. We need justices who can relate to other worlds and bring insight to the court which white male appointees sometimes do not share. Thats the way it is. We have many different cultures in the United States and all bring value to our great country. Oh, and by the way, she is qualified and I doubt seriously that she will dismantle the U.S. Constitution.! Oh, and to get as far as she has, Judge Sotomayor has to know something about Constitutional Law!

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR IS THE REAL DEAL!
NO SILVERSPOON SYNDROME HERE, SHE WORKED VERY
HARD TO GET WHERE SHE IS TODAY!
HER STORY SHOULD BE ECHOED IN ALL HALLS OF
LEARNING, THIS IS A TRUE AMERICAN STORY, LIKE
LOU GHERIG, JACKIE ROBINSON, THURGOOD MARSHALL,
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND MICHELLE OBAMA, SHE
IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR, CONSIDERING ROLAND
BURRIS AND THE EX-GOV FROM ILLINOIS, SHE MAKES
THEM LOOK LIKE REFORM SCHOOL DROPOUTS!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 26, 2009 7:37 AM.

Lynn Sweet talks to CNN's Randi Kaye about Obama Supreme Court choice was the previous entry in this blog.

Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, Marion Wright Edelman, Sweeney at the Sotomayor announcement is the next entry in this blog.

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