By Michael Shear, Debbi
Wilgoren and Robert Barnes
President Obama this week nominated U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court, hailing her as “an inspiring woman” with a moving personal story and broad professional experience who would bring new perspective to the court.
If confirmed, Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Supreme Court justice of Hispanic descent and only the third woman ever to sit on the panel. She grew up in a Bronx housing project, went on to Princeton University and Yale Law School, and has stirred controversy by saying that judges’ legal findings are informed by their own life experiences as well as their legal research.
Obama, too, has said jurists’ life experiences are a key part of their legal makeup, and he cited Sotomayor’s compelling personal story as one of the motivations for his choice. Aides said Obama met Sotomayor in person for the first time Thursday, and made his decision to nominate her last night.
“Over a distinguished career that spans three decades, Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice,” Obama said.
Describing the sacrifices made by Sotomayor’s parents, who came from Puerto Rico to New York to raise their family and focused all their efforts on their children’s education, Obama said the family exemplified the American dream.
Obama said of his nominee, “Walking in the door, she would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.”