Sonia Sotomayor

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor
1954 –

Justice Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009. A vacancy became open upon the retirement of Justice Souter. If her nomination and approval by the Senate is approved, she would become the 111th Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Her confirmation hearing by the Senate did not go without controversy. Justice Sotomayor gave a speech at the University of California, Berkeley and in her speech, she said, “I would hope that a wise Latina Woman with richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Some, including commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, view this statement as being racist. She acknowledged the phrase, “wise Latina woman” was a bad attempt to playing on words. In the end, Justice Sotomayer was confirmed by a vote of 68-31. Justice Sotomayor life is one that is full of achievement and disappointment. Her appointment has changed the landscape from of the court.

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City and is of Puerto Rican descent. Her father died when she was nine, and she was subsequently raised by her mother. As a child, she aspired to be like Nancy Drew, the detective in the popular children's mystery series. But at the age of 8, she was diagnosed with diabetes and told she would not be able to pursue that line of work. Sotomayor said it was another fictional character that inspired her next choice. "I noticed that [defense attorney] Perry Mason was involved in a lot of the same kinds of investigative work that I had been fascinated with reading Nancy Drew, so I decided to become a lawyer," Sotomayor told the American Bar Association publication in 2000. "Once I focused on becoming a lawyer, I never deviated from that goal." Her parents moved to New York during World War II – her mother served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps during the war. Her father, a factory worker with a third-grade education, died when Sotomayor was nine years old. Her mother, a nurse, then raised Sotomayor and her younger brother, Juan, now a physician in Syracuse. After her father’s death, Sotomayor turned to books for solace, and it was her new found love of Nancy Drew that inspired a love of reading and learning, a path that ultimately led her to the law. Most importantly, at an early age, her mother instilled in Sotomayor and her brother a belief in the power of education. Driven by an indefatigable work ethic, and rising to the challenge of managing a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes, Sotomayor excelled in school. Sotomayor graduated as valedictorian of her class at Blessed Sacrament and at Cardinal Spellman High School in New York. She first heard about the Ivy League from her high school debate coach, Ken Moy, who attended Princeton University, and she soon followed in his footsteps after winning a scholarship.

Judge Sotomayor's Legal Realist Judicial Philosophy
Formalism is an appealing view because it purports to validate the rule of law, in contrast to the rule of the men and women who serve as judges. If the judge is simply a vehicle for expressing the law's meaning, then when the judge interprets the law, the judge is not adding his or her own gloss, but rather simply applying the rules and standards previously chosen through democratic processes. For this reason, Justice Scalia, who has also espoused formalism, specifically associates it with the rule of law. Yet formalism has been under assault for over a century. "Legal realists" have long noted that the formalist's view of the law is false, or at least radically incomplete. Even a legal realist will likely admit that, yes, in some very simple cases--the sort that are either never brought or that settle quickly--the formal legal materials uniquely determine the answer. However, legal realists point out that in the sorts of cases that reach...
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