- Sotomayor is one of three liberal justices on the court.
- Sotomayor is the first Latina and woman of color on the court
- She replaced Associate Justice David Souter on the court
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor made history in 2009 by becoming the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. As President Barack Obama’s first nominee, Sotomayor won confirmation 68-31, picking up eight Republican votes in the Senate. Sotomayor is a Spanish-speaking Bronx native born to working-class Puerto Rican parents.
More than a decade into her service, Sotomayor has emerged as the voice of the liberal conscience on the conservative Roberts court. She voted with the majority in the landmark 2015 decision that struck down same-sex marriage bans. She ruled against challenges to the Affordable Care Act and balked at efforts to dismantle campaign finance regulations.
In coming months, Sotomayor may help decide the fate of abortion rights and affirmative action in college admissions as one of three liberal justices on the high court.
Here is what to know about Justice Sotomayor.
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Who is Sonia Sotomayor?
Sonia Sotomayor is the 111th associate justice to serve on the Supreme Court. She previously served on the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. She was also a District Court judge in New York, the only justice to preside over a federal trial court.
How old is Sonia Sotomayor?
Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954. She is 67 years old as of March 2022.
Who appointed Sonia Sotomayor?
Obama nominated Sotomayor in 2009.
Who did Sonia Sotomayor replace?
Sotomayor filled the vacancy created by Associate Justice David Souter, nominated by President George H.W. Bush, who retired in 2009 after nearly 19 years on the court.
How long has Sonia Sotomayor been a justice?
In 2022, Sotomayor will have served 13 years on the court. The Senate confirmed her in August 2009.
Where did Sonia Sotomayor go to school?
Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude in 1976 from Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history. Sotomayor earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1979.
What did Sonia Sotomayor do before the Supreme Court?
Sotomayor got her start after graduating from Yale in 1979 working as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, where she prosecuted criminal cases.
In 1984, she got a job practicing corporate law at a private law firm in New York City before being nominated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush to the District Court in New York. She served on that court until 1998.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. In 2009, during his first year in office, Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court.
Is Sonia Sotomayor liberal or conservative?
Sotomayor is one of three liberal justices on the court. More than that, Sotomayor frequently writes solo dissents to call attention to progressive interpretations of the law – sometimes calling out her more conservative colleagues in stark terms. She was widely quoted in an exchange at oral argument last year in a case involving Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. During those arguments, Sotomayor questioned whether “this institution (will) survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”
How has Sonia Sotomayor ruled?
Sotomayor rules with the other liberal justices most of the time. In the 2020 term, Sotomayor voted with the other liberal justices at least 73% of the time while voting with a conservative justice no more than 59% of the time, according to the Harvard Law Review.
What is one of Sonia Sotomayor’s most significant opinions?
In 2018, Sotomayor wrote a 28-page dissent from the court’s 5-4 decision upholding President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority nations, and she summarized it for 20 minutes from the bench. After quoting extensively Trump’s words during and after the 2016 campaign to illustrate what she called “his apparent hostility toward Muslims,” she said, “A reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”
The dissent won praise not only from liberals but libertarians who originally opposed her confirmation. Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University who testified in 2009 against Sotomayor’s views on property rights, said, “I think she nailed it exactly right.”
Does Sonia Sotomayor have a family?
Sotomayor has a younger brother named Juan. She married her high school sweetheart Kevin Noonan in 1976, but they divorced in 1983. Sotomayor does not have children.
Is Sonia Sotomayor Catholic?
Sonia Sotomayor is one of six Catholic justices.
Did Sonia Sotomayor write a children’s book?
Sotomayor authored a children’s book published in early 2022 called “Just Help!: How to Build A Better World.”
The book is about the different ways people in a neighborhood contribute to make their community better. It was inspired by Sotomayor’s mother, who would ask Sotomayor “How did you help today?” every night when Sotomayor was a child.
Sotomayor’s first children’s book, “Just Ask” was published in 2019 and is a New York Times bestseller.
Why is Sonia Sotomayor known as the “savior of baseball?”
When Sotomayor was a federal district court judge in New York in 1995 she ruled against Major League Baseball owners in a labor dispute, ending the 1994-1995 season MLB strike ahead of opening day.
Contributing: John Fritze