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May 27, 2009 posted by Linda Basch After nearly a month of anticipation, President Obama has finally announced his nomination for Supreme Court justice—and what a nomination! The President tapped Sonia Sotomayor, a New York federal appeals justice born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in housing projects in the South Bronx. In a world where most Latinas are far less likely to go on to college than any other group of women, only 2.9 % of Latina Women hold advanced graduate degrees, 10% of all Latina women are unemployed, and the number of female Hispanic Federal Court Judges can be counted on one hand, Sotomayor has risen above those odds to become the first ever Hispanic woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Her ascent from humble beginnings mirrors President Obama’s personal narrative; both overcame incredible obstacles to become role models for generations. For those in the Hispanic Community, her appointment is a glimmer of hope that the often silenced voice of the Hispanic, female minority has a better chance of being represented in public debates and decision-making.
The work is not finished yet, however. While women earned 47.7% of law degrees in 2007, they represent only 17% of Congress, only 17 percent of the partners nationwide at major law firms and one-quarter of state judges. We can and must do better. As Sotomayor stated herself, “our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions.” To bring in a women’s perspective is the first step in narrowing the gender gap, and bringing fresh vision into key political and social decisions that will affect Americans as a whole. Let’s hope Sotomayor lives up to her promises: “I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.” In the meantime, experts across the NCRW network are abuzz with excitement:
Irasema Garza, Legal Momentum:
"Sonia Sotomayor is a brilliant jurist with vast legal and judicial experience. Her three decade career in nearly every aspect of the law, as prosecutor, litigator, and judge has given her an extraordinary breadth of experience and insight into the law's impact on the lives of ordinary people and society"
Marcia Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center:
“In addition to her varied legal background and extensive judicial experience, Judge Sotomayor, if confirmed, would bring to the Court a wealth of life experience as the first Hispanic and only the third woman to ever serve on the Court… “
Carol Jenkins, Women’s Media Center:
“it was historic– an emotional gathering with both the President and Sotomayor paying tribute to her mother, a nurse who raised her and her brother (a doctor) after their father died when she was 9 years old…”
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“This historic nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court sends a strong signals that President Obama understands the importance of ensuring that our Supreme Court justices respect precedent while also protecting our civil liberties… “
The White House Project:
The nomination of Sotomayor is a major step towards realizing the benefits of diversity ….believed to be essential to a representative democracy... A diversely constituted Supreme Court will ensure that the highest court in the land is drawing on the best and broadest available information, ideas and expertise; that the debate is thorough; and - ultimately -that the decisions reached truly reflect and promote the common good.
We congtratulate Judge Sotomayor on her nomination and will watch the confirmation hearings closely, as we raise public awareness about this critical appointment.