Hispanic History Month: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

SONIA SOTOMAYOR – “The People’s Justice”

Sonia Sotomayor was born in the South Bronx in NYC on June 25, 1954, to parents who had moved from Puerto Rico to NYC. Her family struggled financially, but Sonia worked hard and was accepted at Princeton University in 1972 on a full scholarship. During her first year, she felt overwhelmed by the academic demands and asked for help from an instructor. She graduated in 1976 and entered Yale Law School, again on a scholarship.

After passing the bar in 1980, Sonia worked as an assistant district attorney in NYC at a time when the city had high levels of crime and drug problems. Her boss, D.A. Robert Morgenthau, served as her sponsor in 1987 when Governor Mario Cuomo appointed her to the board of the State of NY Mortgage Agency. Here she helped low-income people get home mortgages. She was also appointed to the NYC Campaign Finance Board and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund Board.

This pro bono work helped her get appointed to the U.S. District Court in NY in 1992 and then to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997. Her work as a judge led President Barack Obama to nominate Sotomayor for Supreme Court justice on May 26, 2009. She was confirmed on August 8, 2009, and became the first Latina Supreme Court justice in the U.S.

Two of her important cases include voting on June 25, 2015, to uphold an important component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which is under attack again. The next day, June 26, 2015, she voted with the majority again in a 5 to 4 decision that made same sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Sonia is well known for her opinions on civil rights, privacy rights, and criminal justice and has written more dissents than any other justice. She has been called “The People’s Justice,” and we need her voice even more now to uphold what the people of our nation want.

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