My Beloved World (Sotomayor)

Author Bio
Birth—June 25, 1954
Where—Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Princeton University; J.D., Yale
Currently—lives in Washington, D.C.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since 2009. Sotomayor is the Court's 111th justice, its first Hispanic justice, and its third female justice.

Short Bio
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. Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal.

She was an advocate for the hiring of Latino faculty at both schools. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for four and a half years before entering private practice in 1984. She played an active role on the boards of directors for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, and her nomination was confirmed in 1992. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her nomination was slowed by the Republican majority in the United States Senate, but she was eventually confirmed in 1998. On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions. Sotomayor has taught at the New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court to replace retired Justice David Souter. Her nomination was confirmed by the Senate in August 2009 by a vote of 68–31. On the court, Sotomayor has been a reliable member of the liberal bloc when the justices divide along the commonly perceived ideological lines.

Federal District Court
Sotomayor generally kept a low public profile as a district court judge. She showed a willingness to take anti-government positions in a number of cases, and during her first year in the seat, she received high ratings from liberal public-interest groups. Other sources and organizations regarded her as a centrist during this period. In criminal cases, she gained a reputation for tough sentencing and was not viewed as a pro-defense judge. A Syracuse University study found that in such cases, Sotomayor generally handed out longer sentences than her colleagues, especially when white-collar crime was involved. Fellow district judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum was an influence on Sotomayor in adopting a narrow, "just the facts" approach to judicial decision-making.

As a trial judge, she garnered a reputation for being well-prepared in advance of a case and moving cases along a tight schedule. Lawyers before her court viewed her as plain-spoken, intelligent, demanding, and sometimes somewhat unforgiving; one said, "She does not have much patience for people trying to snow her. You can't do it."

Court of Appeals
Over her ten years on the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions where she was in the majority. The Supreme Court reviewed five of those, reversing three and affirming two—not high numbers for an appellate judge of that many years and a typical percentage of reversals.

Sotomayor's circuit court rulings led to her being considered a political centrist by the ABA Journal and other sources and organizations. A Congressional Research Service analysis found that Sotomayor's rulings defied easy ideological categorization, but did show an adherence to precedent, an emphasis on the facts of a case, and an avoidance of overstepping the circuit court's judicial role.

In the Court of Appeals seat, Sotomayor gained a reputation for vigorous and blunt behavior toward lawyers appealing before her, sometimes to the point of brusque and curt treatment or testy interruptions. She was known for extensive preparation for oral arguments and for running a "hot bench", where judges ask lawyers plenty of questions.

Supreme Court
Sotomayor cast her first vote as an associate Supreme Court justice on August 17, 2009, in a stay of execution case. Sotomayor heard arguments in her first case on September 9 during a special session. The case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, involved the First Amendment rights of corporations in campaign finance and became one of the most controversial and consequential decisions in a number of years, and one in which Sotomayor dissented.

As her first year neared completion, Sotomayor said it had been exciting, challenging and a little scary; she told friends she felt swamped by the intensity and heavy workload of the job. In succeeding Justice Souter, Sotomayor had done little to change the philosophical balance of the Court. Sotomayor voted with Justices Ginsburg and Breyer 90 percent of the time, one of the highest agreement rates on the Court.

On January 20 and 21, 2013, she administered the oath to Vice President Joe Biden for the inauguration of his second term. Sotomayor became the first Hispanic and fourth woman to administer the oath to a president or vice president. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/19/13.)

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