Women’s History Month 2013: Justice Sonia Sotomayor

20 Mar

JusticeSotomayorToday we honor and celebrate a woman dedicated to justice who is working hard to restore integrity to our nation’s highest court — quite the ambitious task while Scalia is on the bench. Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx in 1954 to parents who had recently moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Her mother and grandmother stressed the importance of education, and she worked hard in school, initially hoping to be a detective (inspired by Nancy Drew). A Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis at age seven led her family and doctors to recommend a less strenuous career choice, so she decided she wanted to be a judge–I wonder if her parents detected the irony here?

She attended Princeton, where she was a distinct minority both as a woman and a Latina. She received her undergraduate degree in History, winning numerous scholastic prizes in her final year and graduating summa cum laude. She immediately started law school at Yale, where she was once again in the distinct minority. Attending on a scholarship, she was stunned when a major law firm suggested during a recruitment dinner that she was at Yale solely because she was Latina. She terminated the interview and filed a formal complaint, resulting in a favorable ruling from a campus tribunal and a formal apology from the firm.  Brava, Justice Sotomayor!

After receiving her J.D. and passing the New York Bar, she began work as an assistant district attorney, focusing on crimes against persons and police brutality. She developed a reputation for going wherever she needed to go to get evidence, regardless of the neighborhood. After a few years she went into private practice and was appointed to a number of Boards and task forces by New York governors and New York City mayors. She expanded her reputation as a strong advocate for the marginalized–a voice for social justice!

In 1991 she realized her childhood dream and became a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the first Hispanic federal judge in the state. Six years later she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District. She faced a brutal confirmation hearing, with Senate Republicans stalling for months and grilling her on her decisions favoring gay rights and due process. Once seated, she expanded her reputation as a strong, fair judge interested in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable; imagine that, a judge working for civil rights for all?

Sonia Sotomayor became a Supreme Court Justice in 2009. She settled in quickly and works hard to ensure that the loud, conservative voices on the Court don’t dominate when cases come forward. She made news recently for harshly criticizing  a Texas prosecutor whose argument relied on racist stereotyping. During hearings on a case regarding the Voting Rights Act, she refused to allow an Alabama attorney to hide his county’s racist history.

Why would we vote in favor of a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?

When Justices Scalia and Alito tried to bail the attorney out with far-fetched hypotheticals, she weighed in again.

The problem with those hypotheticals is obvious […] it’s a real record as to what Alabama has done to earn its place on the list. Discrimination is discrimination, and what Congress said is it continues.

Thank you, Justice Sotomayor, for standing up for those who most need it. May your time on the Court be long and productive!

17 Responses to “Women’s History Month 2013: Justice Sonia Sotomayor”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW March 20, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I recently finished reading Sotomayor’s autobiography, “My Beloved World”. She is truly a “Horatio Alger” story, having grown up in “the projects” in Queens with an alcoholic father who died when she was a young child and a mother who worked as a nurses aid in a local hospital (but went on with adult Sonia’s help and encouragement to become an RN). The more I know about her and watch her in action, the more pleased I am that she is on our country’s highest court. Thank you for writing about her, Michael!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 6:32 am #

      Thank you for adding the additional lovely information about our Sonia and for celebrating her!

  2. Christine Noble March 20, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    I love, love, love Justice Sotomayor! Kagan, Ginsberg and O’Connor are/were great and all but Justice Sonia does not put up with any bull. She’s definitely no shrinking violet and young women need more role models like her.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Christine, Yes, I, too, love Ginsberg and Kagen as well. I’m a little more ambivalent toward O’Connor and sad that her legacy is that she was the deciding vote to appoint W. as President in 2000.

      • Christine Noble March 20, 2013 at 9:41 am #

        Yes, yes she was, but outside Scalia and his toady Thomas I think the rest of the court, regardless of what side they were on made whatever choice they made b/c the whole thing was a cluster you-know-what.

  3. dykewriter March 20, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Reblogged this on dyke writer and commented:
    Thanks M

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Thank you, for reblogging, dear heart.

      • dykewriter March 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

        you’re welcome

        it’s my primary outlet of feeling marginally useful

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

        You are exceedingly useful!

      • dykewriter March 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm #


        that’s nice to know

        I post this to people on facebook who make me smile

        and you’re the first blog pal to get it

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        That is so sweet! Your video so made me smile!

      • dykewriter March 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm #


        the gift that goes on giving


        I sense a quantum ripple in the internet consciousness!

        oh my gosh, people being nice to each other…..

        sadly…. LOL

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

        Fortunately, we have the power to keep putting that good energy into the Universe.

      • dykewriter March 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm #


        work and play well with others

        it’s my motto

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

        Play well with others! Absolutely!

  4. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Thank you for reblogging this, Nancy.


  1. Women’s History Month 2013: Justice Sonia Sotomayor | The Solipsistic Me | Central Oregon Coast NOW - March 20, 2013

    […] Women’s History Month 2013: Justice Sonia Sotomayor | The Solipsistic Me. […]

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