Sonia Sotomayor: Inspiring Wannabe Latina Law Students Everywhere

alex01thumbObama’s Supreme Court pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a welcome one for me, as a young Hispanic female interested in studying law and in dire need of a role model. (And it’s also yet another example of life imitating art – no, I won’t stop comparing real life to The West Wing, so don’t even ask me to.)

A graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Sotomayor has served as an assistant D.A. in Manhattan, and entered private practice in 1984. In 1992, she was appointed to US District Court, the Southern District of New York, by President George H.W. Bush. (And she saved baseball.) Sotomayor was then appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1998 by President Clinton, the first Latina to serve on that court. And since she’s the first Hispanic person ever to be nominated for the highest court in the land…it’s good to be Latina today. The Supreme Court should be representative of the makeup of the country, in my opinion. That means more girls, and more Hispanics. (Of course, since appointments are for life, that will probably take a good while.)

Does it surprise me that she’s already being called a liberal activist baby-killer (obviously, I’m paraphrasing in the name of theater)? No, not really. It’s the risk that’s run when, uh, anything happens in DC. No matter what, if, say, a senator draws a picture of a cat and puts it on their MySpace, people are going to be upset about it. “Senator X hates dogs!” “Senator X is anti-American!” And so on, and so forth. I wouldn’t sweat it, but I wish there would be more creativity in insults. But, c’est la vie, as they say in cheese-eating-surrender-monkey-land, I mean, France. (Note to our French readers: Je plaisante! J’aime la belle France, vraiment! J’aime aussi Les Misérables, mais c’est tout autre chose.)


  1. “The Supreme Court should be representative of the makeup of the country, in my opinion.”

    As long as they are competent I’ll agree. If the “makeup of the country” is the first or second of even third most important requirement in selecting a nominee, how are we going to agree on what is this “makeup”? Does this “makeup” include minorities like Miguel Estrada that happen to be conservatives?

    A Democrats filibuster that prevented a vote in the senate stalled Miguel Estrada nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for two years. He finally gave up and moved on.

    There are only 9 justices and if you look at the ethnic makeup of this country I’ll bet you will find more than 9 different ethnic groups… that you could also sub-divide even more if you look at their life experiences, political beliefs, religion… you name it. So…I’ll go with competence and if whoever is selected happens to be Latino, well…I’ll take that as a bonus.

  2. Well, obv. I want competent people. Won’t do us a hell of a lot of good if we have a wonderfully diverse court that doesn’t know a tort from a delicious pastry. (It kind of went without saying, that point…but I guess I have to say it after all. FML.)

    …you know what else probably ought to go without saying, but that I probably have to say now anyway? That until I become kickass lawyer-lady at some point in the not-too-distant future, there will be no Dominican/Saharawi agnostic SCOTUS justices who used to live in Australia and were born in DC and happen to like toast with strawberry jam and enjoy the works of Victor Hugo. It just seems weird to me that the majority of the court is older white males. But w/e. I was speaking in generalities. Sure, bring on Estrada! Shame he was filibustered down. Diversity doesn’t just mean “people I agree with”, even though it seems to for some people. (Of course, not saying that we need it to be like the “Politically Correct” casts of every freaking 1990s TV show, which always included some minority kid in a wheelchair just so they could cover all the bases. That was always something that seemed forced to me.)

    I’m taking the Latina thing as a bonus. But it’s a damn nice bonus, IMO…and gives me a nice role model to boot, even if she doesn’t get confirmed. She’s awesome.

  3. By the way, I’ll hitch a ride on your post to comment on this somewhat related AP story:

    ”Benjamin Cardozo was indisputably the second Jewish justice on the Supreme Court. Was he also the first Hispanic? There is no conclusive answer.
    The Federal Judicial Center, on its Web site, says he was not. Some readers, objecting to the description of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, say Cardozo was Hispanic.
    According to Harvard professor and Cardozo biographer Andrew L. Kaufman, “it’s all in the context.”
    Cardozo was nominated to the court by President Herbert Hoover in 1932. He was a member of a prominent family of Sephardic Jews who claim Portuguese heritage.

    I just couldn’t believe that the AP would ever write something that dumb. It should be obvious to any with access to a dictionary, enciclopedia or the web that a Portuguese is not Hispanic. “Latino” should have replaced every instance of “Hispanic” in the previous paragraph for it to be factually correct.

    Having said that, was justice Cardozo the first Latino on the Supreme Court? Count me in as a “yes”.

  4. Yeah. That’s kind of a dumb mistake to make – kind of like ‘all squares are rectangles; not all rectangles are squares’. So my assertion that Sotomayor is the first Hispanic person nominated to the SCOTUS is still correct, or am I blanking on something still?

    But she’s Latina! Feminine suffix! Which is more different but no less significant! (Possibly more – third woman ever if she gets confirmed.) We need more women on SCOTUS. Do I want men who have never had to deal with ‘that time of the month’ firsthand (or firstuterus as the case may be, haha) deciding what I can and cannot do with my babymaker? As the horses say, neigh.

    I’m going to bed, as I am obviously getting delirious. Or hilarious. One of those “-ious” words. See ya tomorrow!

  5. ” So my assertion that Sotomayor is the first Hispanic person nominated to the SCOTUS is still correct, or am I blanking on something still?”

    I believe yes, it is correct. Is just that in the “Hispanic vs. Latino” debate I am very firmly in the “Latino” side. Latino is just more inclusive and better describe the our cultural diversity.

  6. The Washington Post pitch in:

    Everyone talks about diversifying the Supreme Court. Maybe the time has come for a WASP.

    There hasn’t been a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant put forward in the five nominations since Justice David H. Souter came to the court in 1990. With Souter’s impending departure, the demographic will be seriously underrepresented on a court that features five Catholics and two Jews…

    I insist… the best jurist available and forget about diversity…

  7. […] Sonia Sotomayor: Inspiring Wannabe Latina Law Students Everywhere […]

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