Five reasons to care about Sonia Sotomayor
Few things make me more nervous than the morning of a job interview.
I can’t relax. I wake up too early and change my outfit three or four times. I forget how to iron and by the time I get there it takes a strong coffee for me to look alert.
So it’s with huge admiration that I watch Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s calm and poised exterior as she fronts up to what is potentially the longest, most in-depth and important interview of her life.
As President Obama’s pick to replace retiring Justice David Souter in the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has to pass through a confirmation hearing to win approval from the US Senate.
Expected to cover issues from race to religion and gun rights, a confirmation hearing is basically an intense Q & A session that allows the Senate to confirm Sotomayor’s impartiality and therefore suitability for the role of justice.
Requiring hours of preparation, the hearing is considered to be an arduous and grueling experience for nominees. Twelve people are said to have been rejected by the Senate since the process began in 1955.
Sotomayor’s Latino background is at the heart of her hearing.
With her admission that a “wise Latina woman ….can reach a better decision than…a white man,” and her role in upholding a decision to throw out testing results in which 19 white fire fighters and one Hispanic would have been promoted, but no African-Americans, have already sparked heated discussion within the Senate.
If confirmed she will become the first Hispanic American to become a justice of the Supreme Court.
Here are five reasons why she deserves it.
1. As a Hispanic American woman she will make history
Born in the South Bronx, Sotomayor was raised in a housing project by her Puerto Rican immigrant parents. She started her education at a local public school but her intellect and hard work earned her scholarships for an Ivy League education.
If her position is confirmed she will not only become the first Hispanic American to become a Supreme Court justice she will also be the third woman justice in history.
2. She was hand-picked by Obama
At Sotomayor’s nomination in May, President Obama was reported to have said that there are ‘fewer serious or more consequential decisions’ for a President than his selection of supreme court judge.’
He praised Sotomayor’s ‘impressive and meaningful credentials’ but said it was the weight of her personal experiences that set her apart.
3. She’s accountable
Described by CNN as a ‘delicate dance’ the confirmation hearings are a series of interviews with Sotomayor designed to give the Senate a firmer understanding of her judicial preferences. Some critics believe the hearings are a waste of time, that they are too drawn out and would work better without the active participation of the nominee.
Once confirmed, Sotomayor’s position as a Supreme Court justice will be a lifetime appointment.
4. Her credentials are outstanding
Sotomayor has spent 17 years on the federal bench and worked at every level of the US legal system. According to the New York Times her combined work experiences mean she has been a judge longer than anyone who has “gone onto the Supreme Court in 100 years.”
She was promoted, at separate times by both sides of American politics; to the US District Court by George W Bush and the Federal Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton.
5. She’s had a serious background check and an impressive set of references
The Brennan Center for Justice, part of New York University Law School analysed 1,194 constitutional cases decided during Judge Sotomayor’s tenure.
As well as President Obama’s sealed stamp of approval Sotomayor comes highly recommended by no less than 1000 law professors.
You can follow live coverage of the hearing.
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