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Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court



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On August 8, 2009, Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice to serve on the nation's highest court.

Sotomayor's mother was an orphan from rural Puerto Rico. Her father had a third-grade education, did not speak English, and died when Sotomayor was 9 years old. Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx and claims that watching the CBS legal drama Perry Mason in her youth led her to aspire to a career as a judge. She received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where she advocated strongly on behalf of the school's underserved minority communities, and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979.

READ MORE: How Sonia Sotomayor Overcame Adversity to Become the United States' First Hispanic and Latina Justice

Sotomayor spent much of her career in private practice but also served on the board of the New York State Mortgage Agency, where she became a vocal proponent of affordable housing and frequently called attention to the effects of gentrification. She also served on the New York City Campaign Finance Board and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. In 1991, Republican President George H.W. Bush fulfilled her childhood dream by nominating her to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Six years later, she was confirmed to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Over the course of her judicial career, she issued an injunction that ended the 1994 Major League Baseball strike in favor of the players, sided with an employee of the New York Police Department who had been fired for sending racist materials through the mail, and gained a reputation for dealing bluntly with the lawyers who argued before her.

Sotomayor was the first Supreme Court justice nominated by President Barack Obama, who had taken office the previous January. The choice of a Hispanic woman by the nation's first non-white president led to a backlash that set the tone for her confirmation hearings. In particular, a comment she had made in 2001 about "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences" being a better-qualified than being "a white male who hasn't lived that life" rankled her opponents. Nearly every Republican on the Senate Judicial Committee—all of whom were white men—brought up the comment during their questioning, while pundits speculated about Sotomayor's impartiality and even accused her of being racist. Nonetheless, she was easily confirmed by a Democratic majority and nine of the Senate's 40 Republicans.

In addition to becoming the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor was the third woman named to the bench. The following year, Justice Elena Kagan would become the fourth. Since her appointment, Sotomayor has been notable for her forceful dissent in several cases regarding racial discrimination, as well as siding with the majority in a 5-4 decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act.


Sotomayor Sworn In as New Justice

Justice Sonia Sotomayor took the judicial oath on Saturday, becoming the first Hispanic and third woman to serve on the Supreme Court in United States history.

At just past 11 a.m., Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered a pair of oaths to her in two private ceremonies at the Supreme Court building, completing her ascent to a life-tenured position as the nation’s 111th justice, and the first to be nominated by a Democratic president since 1994.

Sonia Sotomayor Takes Judicial Oath

Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She is the first Latina and third woman to take oath into the justice courts.

By None None on Publish Date August 8, 2009.

Comments are no longer being accepted.

Congratulations to Justice Roberts for not screwing up the oath! -)

Way to go Justice Sotomayor! Blessings to you and your colleagues in your next term.

Congrats to the first Latina on the supreme court

What a proud day for the United States to have Sonia Sotomayor and her “mainstream judicial approach” on the Supreme Court. This is what the Republicans wanted in a Justice. They should be pleased that President Obama did not go to the left.

Identity politics at its worst.

Maybe Mr. Obama can go to the left next time, now that the right has proven itself to be too dishonest to respect.

How hard would it be for someone with Justice Robert’s intelligence to learn to pronounce Justice Sotomayor’s surname correctly? It’s really not that difficult … certainly less difficult than editing the Harvard Law Review.

As a latin american, I feel absolutely proud about Mrs Sotomayor´s nomination on the Supreme Court. Congratulations!

I celebrate Justice Sotomayor’s accomplishments and her elevation to the Supreme Court. I heard commentators today say that Latinos were celebrating. I am sure that is so, but Latinos are not the only ones celebrating this great occasion. There are many Americans from all backgrounds (and I am one) who are so proud of our new Justice and our country. We will get there . . .it is hard but we will. I am so happy for her and for my country.

Congratulations, Justice Sotomayor! It’s a wonderful day to be an American. (I loved how she seemed to give special emphasis to the oath’s requirement that equal justice be given to the rich and the poor.)

Congratulations Judge Sotomayor.

Congratulations Justice Sotomayor. America is proud today. Your exemplary career, dedication, and unerring drive to achieve your goals have set the standard for generations to come. Congratulations to Mom Sotomayor, also a remarkable woman.

All Supreme Court Justices are American trained lawyers, just like Miami ambulance chasers. Sotomayor is no better than the average ambulance chaser.


Her rulings include dissents on President Trump's travel ban and "unlawful police stops."

In 2015, Sotomayor sided with the majority in two historic Supreme Court rulings: Upholding a major part of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in a 5-4 majority.

Sotomayor made headlines with a sharp dissent in June 2016, in the case of Utah v. Edward Joseph Strieff, Jr., the ruling in favor of which was considered a win for the police forces' freedom of conduct during police stops. &ldquoThe mere existence of a warrant not only gives an officer legal cause to arrest and search a person, it also forgives an officer who, with no knowledge of the warrant at all, unlawfully stops that person on a whim or hunch," she wrote, citing the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

When the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump's executive order known as the Muslim travel ban, Sotomayor wrote, "Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court&rsquos decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent."


Legal Practice and Judicial Appointments

In 1984, Sotomayor entered private practice, making partner at the commercial litigation firm Pavia & Harcourt, where she specialized in intellectual property litigation. She moved from associate to partner at the firm in 1988. While she climbed the ladder there, Sotomayor also served on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York City Campaign Finance Board and the State of New York Mortgage Agency. 

Sotomayor&aposs pro bono work at these agencies caught the attention of Senators Ted Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who were partially responsible for her appointment as U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York City. President George H.W. Bush nominated her for the position in 1992, which was confirmed unanimously by the Senate on August 11, 1992. When she joined the court, she was its youngest judge. On her 43rd birthday, June 25, 1997, she was nominated for the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton. She was confirmed by the Senate that October.

In addition to her work in the Court of Appeals, Sotomayor also began teaching law as anꂭjunct professorਊt New York University in 1998 and at Columbia Law School in 1999. She has also received honorary law degrees from Herbert H. Lehman College, Princeton University and Brooklyn Law School. And she served on the Board of Trustees at Princeton.


Historical Significance Recognized with Justice Sotomayor Swearing in VP-elect Harris

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks during a Commonwealth Club event at Herbst Theatre on January 28, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More history will be made on Inauguration Day (Jan. 20) when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black, South Asian and woman vice president, will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the high court’s first-ever Latina justice.

According to ABC News, Harris chose to take her oath of office from Justice Sotomayor because she was inspired by her background. Both are former prosecutors. The historical significance of Harris and Sotomayor sharing the stage on Wednesday is not being overlooked.

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, swearing in Kamala Harris, the first female and first Black/Indian Vice President of the United States… is going to bring tears to my eyes. I love it. Wish #RBG could be here for this. #ruthless #StillWithHer

&mdash Vivian (@v_e_e_e_e) January 17, 2021

Harris will take her oath with two Bibles – one of them belonging to late civil rights leader and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who became the first Black justice on the Supreme Court in 1967.

Harris considers Marshall one of her personal heroes. Last July, she released a video on Twitter where she called Marshall a “fighter” and a “boxer in the courtroom.”

“The work that [Marshall] did is really one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer,” Harris says in the video.

This is the second time Sotomayor will participate in a presidential inauguration. In 2013, she swore in Joe Biden as vice president for his second term. It was the first time a Latina justice had administered an inaugural oath of office in United States history and only the fourth time a female justice had done it. As memorable as that moment was eight years ago, emotions will run high as all eyes will be transfixed on Harris and Sotomayor when they make history Wednesday.


Republicans mocked Harris' name on the campaign trail, so it was disappointing to see it mispronounced at the inauguration

Mispronouncing "Kamala" became more than just an unintended slip-up during the 2020 presidential campaign - it became a form of racial harassment. Mocking her Sanskrit name became a frequent punchline at Trump's campaign rallies, and at an October rally, Senator David Perdue called her "KAH-mah-la, Kah-MAH-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know, whatever."

"Well that is incredibly racist," tweeted Sabrina Singh, Harris' campaign press secretary. Perdue's campaign argued that he'd simply mispronounced the name.

"I think that the name that your parents gives you, whoever you are, meaning whatever your gender or race or background or language your grandmother speaks, is a very special thing," she said. "Many cultures have naming ceremonies. It is a gift that is an incredible, familial gift. The family gives the child a name and so I come at it from that: not about myself, but for everyone . Respect the names that people are given and use those names with respect."

Harris' oath of office marked historic progress for women and people of color in America. But it's unfortunate that such a defining aspect of her identity - her name - was not afforded the respect it deserves.


Presidential Inauguration: Sonia Sotomayor Swears in Vice President Joseph Biden

Sonia Sotomayor becomes first Hispanic to administer an oath of office.

Washington D.C. – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore in Vice President Joseph Biden Monday at the presidential inauguration, becoming the first Hispanic to administer an oath of office in U.S. history.

Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the high court, also became the fourth female judge in U.S. history to administer an oath of office.

Biden personally selected Sotomayor to swear him in.

“From the first time I met her, I was impressed by Justice Sotomayor’s commitment to justice and opportunity for all Americans, and she continues to exemplify those values today," Biden said after choosing her. "Above all, I’m happy for the chance to be sworn in by a friend – and someone I know will continue to do great things.”

It was one of the greatest pleasures of my career to be involved in [Sonia Sotomayor's] selection to the Court.

— Vice President Joseph Biden

The prominent role of a Latina at the inauguration is a nod, to some degree, to the critical role Hispanics played in the Nov. 6 elections that gave President Barack Obama a victory. Latinos turned out in record numbers, accounting for 10 percent of voters 71 percent voted for Obama over his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney.

Latinos also made history in Congressional races. The 113th Congress included more Latinos than ever, with three in the U.S. Senate and 28 in the House of Representatives.

Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009. It was a remarkable moment for a woman who was born in the South Bronx to Juan and Celina Sotomayor, both of Puerto Rican descent. Sotomayor’s mother was a methadone clinic nurse, and her father was a tool worker who died when Sotomayor was just 9 years old.

Sotomayor has said that her mother doggedly pushed her two children to get a college education. Sotomayor began dreaming of becoming a judge after watching the TV show “Perry Mason,” in which the main character was a defense attorney.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the Pyne Prize, the university's highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a degree from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.


Sonia Sotomayor sworn in as first Hispanic supreme court judge

Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in yesterday as the first Hispanic judge to sit on the supreme court, the highest legal body in America.

Surrounded by family and friends, Sotomayor swore an oath to administer justice fairly in a public ceremony in Washington DC led by Chief Justice John Roberts. Earlier she had sworn another oath to Roberts in a private ceremony. It completed a lengthy process, confirming Sotomayor's place in the court that makes judgments on controversial issues as abortion rights, gay marriage and affirmative action, as well as a host of more mundane legal issues.

Though her nomination was never really in doubt, it was marred by controversy as Republicans focused on Sotomayor's comments that she brought her experience as a "wise Latina woman" to judicial decisions. Republicans claimed the remarks potentially showed racial prejudice.

Her nomination now appears to have been a canny political move by President Barack Obama. Sotomayor, who has a moderate judicial record, has a stirring life story that began in a tough Bronx housing project. She is wildly popular with many Hispanics in America, a growing source of electoral power as they expand demographically.

Sotomayor, 55, has worked for 17 years as a federal judge and is the third woman to be appointed to the supreme court. It currently has one woman sitting on it – Sotomayor joins Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Judge Sandra O'Connor has retired.


Sonia Sotomayor

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Sonia Sotomayor, in full Sonia Maria Sotomayor, (born June 25, 1954, Bronx, New York, U.S.), associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 2009. She was the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The daughter of parents who moved to New York City from Puerto Rico, Sotomayor was raised in a housing project in the Bronx. After the death of her father, her mother worked long hours as a nurse to support the family. Sotomayor credits the episodes of the television crime show Perry Mason (1957–66) that she watched as a child with influencing her decision to become a lawyer. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University (B.A., 1976) before attending Yale Law School, where she worked as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She graduated in 1979 and worked for five years as an assistant district attorney in New York county before pursuing private practice in a New York firm, where she worked on intellectual property and copyright cases.

In 1992 Pres. George H.W. Bush appointed Sotomayor a federal judge in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. As a federal judge, Sotomayor received national attention in 1995 when she ruled in favour of Major League Baseball players, then on strike, who were suing because of changes to the free agent system and salary arbitration rules. Sotomayor issued an injunction against the team owners, effectively bringing the eight-month strike to an end.

When Pres. Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to be a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997, Republican senators delayed her appointment for more than a year because of their concerns that the position might lead to a Supreme Court nomination. After her appointment to the court in 1998, Sotomayor was known for her candid, direct speaking style and for her carefully reasoned decisions. Some of her decisions provoked controversy. In 2001 she ruled in favour of a woman with dyslexia who wanted more accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to take the bar exam. In 2003 in Ricci v. DeStefano, a group of white firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut, sued the city for discarding a test, the results of which had in effect barred all African American firefighters from promotion. Sotomayor and two other judges in 2008 accepted the lower court’s decision against the white firefighters with little further comment, but in June 2009 the Supreme Court reversed their decision.

In May 2009 Pres. Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in order to fill the vacancy left by departing justice David Souter. Sotomayor faced initial criticism for once stating that policy was made in the Court of Appeals (as opposed to the legislative branch) and, in a different speech, that a Latina judge was better equipped to make judgments than a white man. Her diabetes also brought questions about her potential longevity on the court. Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2009 went smoothly, and the following month she was confirmed (68–31) by the Senate.


Republicans mocked Harris' name on the campaign trail, so it was disappointing to see it mispronounced at the inauguration

Mispronouncing "Kamala" became more than just an unintended slip-up during the 2020 presidential campaign — it became a form of racial harassment. Mocking her Sanskrit name became a frequent punchline at Trump's campaign rallies, and at an October rally, Senator David Perdue called her "KAH-mah-la, Kah-MAH-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know, whatever."

"Well that is incredibly racist," tweeted Sabrina Singh, Harris' campaign press secretary. Perdue's campaign argued that he'd simply mispronounced the name.

Harris responded by telling People magazine that it's a simple matter of respect to say people's names correctly.

"I think that the name that your parents gives you, whoever you are, meaning whatever your gender or race or background or language your grandmother speaks, is a very special thing," she said. "Many cultures have naming ceremonies. It is a gift that is an incredible, familial gift. The family gives the child a name and so I come at it from that: not about myself, but for everyone . Respect the names that people are given and use those names with respect."

Harris' oath of office marked historic progress for women and people of color in America. But it's unfortunate that such a defining aspect of her identity — her name — was not afforded the respect it deserves.