Raised in a housing project in the South Bronx, Judge Sotomayor grew up surrounded by poverty. Her parents, born in Puerto Rico, immigrated to the U.S. during WWII. Despite a difficult financial situation, Judge Sotomayor’s parents understood the value of an education. They worked to put both Sonia and her brother, Juan, through Catholic School. Later, her mother, Celina, a nurse at a methadone clinic, raised her two children alone following the death of her husband.
Judge Soytomayor education credentials are first rate. She graduated from Princeton with honors, which included membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honors society. She also received the M. Taylor Pyne Prize, the highest honor given to undergraduates at Princeton. Following her undergraduate work, Judge Sotomayor earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1979. At Yale, she was editor of the 1979 Yale University Law Review and managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order.
Judge Sotomayor’s educational accolades are impressive. But her professional record is perhaps even more remarkable. Over of the course of her career as a judged she participated in 3000 cases and issued over 380 rulings. She has more federal judiciary experience than any nominee to the Supreme Court in the last 100 years. Sotomayor began her career as a prosecutor in New York County District Attorney’s Court of Appeals. George H. W. Bush nominated her to the federal bar in 1991, and a few years later, she was tapped by President Clinton serve on the 2nd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals.
At the onset of her confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor described her judicial philosophy as, “fidelity to the law.” She makes clear that her personal feelings do not get in the way of her rulings. Her 3,000-plus case record confirms this contention, showing Judge Sotomayor to be firmly within the judicial mainstream. Whereas critics will try to capitalize on what they believe are statements that imply her ethnicity and gender have too much influence on her rulings, it is my belief that while they define her as a person, her ethnicity and gender do not define her as a judge.
While some have unfairly branded Sotomayor as an “activist judge” with an agenda; her only agenda is to uphold the law. She is exactly the type of judge America needs on its highest court.