SCOTUS Spotlight: Sonia Maria Sotomayor

Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 and is the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Supreme Court. Growing up in The Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor was inspired to pursue a legal career and judgeship after watching the Perry Mason television series at just 10 years old. Sotomayor received a full scholarship to Princeton University for undergraduate school, and then to Yale Law School in 1976, on a scholarship as well. Sotomayor praises affirmative action for letting students like herself from “disadvantaged backgrounds” to be “brought to the starting line of a race many were unaware was even being run.” After graduating from law school, Sotomayor was hired as an assistant district attorney in New York County. Sotomayor handled cases such as shoplifting and prostitution to robberies, assaults, and murders. Finally, after pursuing a range of legal positions, serving on various public service committees, and serving on the U.S. Federal District Court of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in 2008, Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court seat by President Barack Obama. After Senate hearings, Sotomayor was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 63-31. Sotomayor has been associated with the liberal side of the court. In her first couple of years on the court she ruled in agreement with Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan, all three known to be of a liberal judicial philosophy. Notably, in January 2021, Sonia Sotomayor swore in Kamala Harris as the first black and South Asian and female Vice President.

Fun fact: Sotomayor identifies as a “Nuyorcian,” which refers to members of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around NYC. Born and raised in NYC, Sotomayor has always been a huge New York Yankees fan.

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