In an unsurprising move, the White House announced this morning that President Obama has picked Second Circuit Court Of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter.
Sotomayor, a New York native born in a housing project in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, is the child of Puerto Rican parents. As such, if confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the nation’s highest court.
A graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Sotomayor has experience as a prosecutor and as a private attorney. She was appointed to the federal bench in the Southern District of New York in 1992.
Though ironically first appointed by President George H.W. Bush, Judge Sotomayor was named to the Appellate court by President Clinton. One of her first significant decisions, which is widely credited with saving Major League Baseball in 1995, was to rule in favor of the players against the owners in their strike which resulted in the cancellation of the World Series.
In another decision, she sided with the principles of affirmative action and identity politics by deciding against white firefighters suing the city of New Haven, CT, in a discrimination case brought by them after the city scotched the results of a promotion exam in which only one minority individual (ironically a Latino) had a high enough qualifying score. In yet another irony, this case is now before the Supreme Court.
Her nomination is the first by a Democratic President in 15 years. With four months to go before the October opening of the Court’s fall session, the Senate will have more than sufficient time to discuss and confirm her.
Republicans are sending mixed signals as to their reactions to the nomination of Judge Sotomayor. Some have indicated they will filibuster if they consider Obama’s appointee too liberal, while others, perhaps mindful of the large Latino voting population, are taking a more moderate stance.
If confirmed, she will become the second female Justice on this Court, joining sitting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.